Bigger battles will be fought for both Sparta&K Moscow Region and Sony Athinaikos this season but on Monday night in Athens, the two clubs gave European fans something to savor.
The two sides thrilled Athens with the second running of the SuperCup Women and once again, just as they did in Vidnoje one year ago against Galatasaray, Sparta&K prevailed.
In one what billed as a celebration of women's basketball, the team that has dominated the European game for four consecutive years - reigning EuroLeague Women champions Sparta&K - again finished on top, winning 70-61.
|Dimitra Kalentzou led the Sony Athinaikos charge in the second quarter|
Monday's contest had an All-Star Game type of feel.
The silky smooth Sparta&K star Noelle Quinn's 18 points led all scorers.
Greece was excited to host the contest, if only because women's basketball has taken some giant steps forward the past couple of years.
In 2009, the national team made a surprise fifth-place finish at the EuroBasket Women in Riga to earn a place at the FIBA World Championship for Women for the very first time.
Some of those players followed up that wonderful achievement with an incredible run in Greece with Athinaikos.
They went undefeated in the Greek league, won the domestic cup and also captured the EuroCup Women title.
In the first week of October, Greece played in their last games at the World Championship in the Czech Republic.
Dimitra Kalentzou was among them.
She has as much grit and determination as any of the Greek players, refusing to sit out this summer after having ankle surgery and instead going to Ostrava to help the Greeks as they almost booked a place in the Quarter-Finals.
On Monday inside the Maroussi arena, Kalentzou was at it again.
Her three-pointer with 6:46 to go in the second quarter cut Sparta&K's advantage to 22-21.
Almost on cue, as Ilona Korstin has done so many times before, she ignited a game-winning 12-0 run with a three-point play.
Sparta&K ended up going in front by 20 in the third quarter but Athinaikos, urged on by the home support, never gave in and managed to reduce to the deficit to just 61-55 with 5:39 to play.
Greek teams always make things interesting and when two free-throws by Olga Chatzinikolaou fell through the hoop with 2:13 left, the Sparta&K lead was suddenly 62-59.
Quinn's jump shot and two free-throws by Korstin stopped the rally, though, and the visitors held on for the win.
The fans got what they wanted and that was an entertaining 40 minutes.
Kalentzou and Aikaterina Sotiriou each finished with 12 points for Athinaikos, while former FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year Anete Jekabsone-Zogota chipped in with 10 for the winners.
Sparta&k Moscow Region-Vidnoje head coach Pokey Chatman:
"With less than ten days of preparation, I didn't expect that we would play such a great game especially during the second and third quarter. We built a large lead and I was kind of surprised!
I was sure that our quality opponent would cut the margin and I am proud of the reaction of my players at the end of the game. They showed character and they managed to win the SuperCup trophy
for the second year in a row."
Sony Athinaikos head coach Giannis Ktistakis:
"Our players showed much more respect than needed to Spartak and due to the offensive inability that we showed in the first half, we found ourselves chasing the Russian team from the middle of the
second quarter. It is very early in the season and that's the reason that - generally speaking - I am satisfied with our effort. Unfortunately we don't have the time to analyse our mistakes because within less than 48 ours, we have to play our first official game for the Greek Cup."