By Doug Booth, PA International
Dexia Namur are leaving no stones unturned in their bid to reach the quarter-final stage of this season's FIBA EuroLeague Women competition.
Belgian champions Dexia Namur take on Lietuvos Telekomas in Vilnius on Tuesday night hoping to strike an early blow against the Lithuania giants, who finished second in the Group A qualifying phase behind the Czech Republic's Gambrinus Brno.
Coach Patrick Delsaux and his staff, including club President Jean-Francois Prior, have done their homework on head coach Algirdas Paulauskas' squad for the past couple of months when it seemed likely that the two clubs would make the knock-out phase.
|Krystyna Szymanska-Lara will have a key role against Lietuvos Telekomas|
The Belgians, currently top of their national domestic competition with 51 points, six clear of Waragem, first checked out the Lithuanians in late December.
"We watched them play USVO Valenciennes in France before Christmas," said President Prior.
"I suppose you could say it was a spying mission but it was important that Patrick (coach Deisaux) found out more about them."
Delsaux saw enough to reinforce his views that the key to stopping Lietuvos is putting the brakes on US import and the league's leading scorer, Katie Douglas.
"We have one or two solutions to use against her," said Prior.
"One way is to double-team her. It means we have to sacrifice a player but perhaps that is the way."
While Douglas, who scored 270 points in the 12 Group A qualifying matches, is a scoring machine, team-mates such as Jurgita Streimikyte, Irena Baranauskaite, and Sandra Valuzyte are playing their part for the Vilnius side.
"They play a good, collective game - the biggest danger is their teamwork," said Prior.
While Prior concedes that Lietuvos, with home court advantage, are favourites to take a one-nil lead on Tuesday, he says Dexia Namur have some secret weapons to spoil the Lithuania party.
"Our three Polish players - Krystyna Szymanska-Lara, Elzbieta Miedzik and Anna Wielbnowska - have been playing well," he said.
"Szymanska-Lara is an inventive, quick player in the number 2 spot.
"Miedzik is a strong shooter and Wielbnowska is an athletic center."
With Belarus guard Sviatlana Volnaya in the number three spot, Prior believes Dexia Namur can counter Lietuvos' natural teamwork with strong defence and their fast break.
Lietuvos travel to Belgium for the second match in the best-of three series on Friday. The third and decider, if required, will be in Vilnius on Thursday, March 3.