|SISU open their European adventure on home soil against Chevakata|
SISU are currently Denmark's best women's basketball team. Last season they won both the Danish Championship and the Danish Cup Tournament very handily.
They are on top of the Dameligaen, Denmark's top league, undefeated after six rounds.
The team from Gentofte, outside of Copenhagen has now won 40 of its last 41 games on Danish soil, dating back to September 2010.
Nevertheless, this EuroCup Women game is the first game ever for SISU in an international competition, and to put it in context, Denmark is not a basketball powerhouse. This will be a whole new ballgame.
The opponent is one of Russia's top teams, BC Chevakata. The Vologda team has now competed in the EuroCup Women for seven consecutive years, usually playing 8-12 games per season in that competition.
Last year Chevakata had their best result ever in the EuroCup Women, losing in the semi-finals to Arras from France (who are also in Group E this year), with a single point difference after two games.
Chevakata is currently number four in the top Russian league (PBL) with 2 wins and 2 losses.
The team has distributed playing time and scoring evenly between seven players, having Maria Cherepanova (11 PPG), Svetlana Makhlina (10 PPG) and Yuliya Kiseleva (8 PPG and in her second season in Chevakata) at the top of the scoring list after four games.
Further, Chevakata have very strong forwards in national team members Irina Sokolovskaya (Russia) and Olesia Malashenko (Ukraine), who joined Chevakata from Arras for this season.
In addition, Chevakata has on its roster 39-year-old basketball legend and World and Olympic Champion Elena Baranova, still going strong, averaging 13 minutes and 7 points per game this season.
SISU's strongest players this season have been shooting guard Kiki Lund, forward Trine Duelund and American centre Stephanie Madden, averaging between 13 and 16 points per game in the first six games in the Dameligaen. Other strong players are team captain and point guard Camilla Blands and forwards Tea Jørgensen and Iben Soltau.
The guests from Vologda are strong favorites in a game in which an experienced semifinalist is visiting a newcomer.
Apart from experience, the guests have a considerable height advantage, with 200-cm center Yuliya Kiseleva and their tall power forwards Maria Cherepanova and Olesia Malashenko, both 189 cm. On average, the Chevakata players are almost 10 cm taller than the SISU players.
It will be interesting and exciting to see how the Danish Champions from SISU take on this tough competition.
SISU has not had any problems so far winning games in Denmark, but they are not used to playing basketball at this level, and they are not accustomed to facing physically stronger opponents.
On the other hand, the Chevakata players, being strong favorites, will have to remind themselves not to relax too much, since complacency can be dangerous.
The Danish fans will be cheering their players on, and SISU aims to present a team on Thursday that not only can beat other Danish teams but also can compete with stronger teams in international competition.
Chevakata head coach Olga Shuneykina:
"We're feeling the time difference and our girls were a little tired; we will do much better next time".
SISO Head Coach Hrannar Holm:
"We can definitely hold these teams in defense, but our players were intimidated on offense and needed a little more confidence. I have never seen our shot percentage so low, but I'm proud, we're learning and this is great for us".
Chevakata Forward Olesia Malashenko:
"We struggled against SISU's press in the start and we made many turnovers. We don't like that and we're not used to that, it was a big surprise".
Chevakata Player Svetlana Makhlina:
"We didn't know what to expect, we haven't been here before, so the game was very unpredictable, we changed tactics up a bit against the press and that worked. Back home we'll look to do better, maybe 100 points."