|Halcon Avenida captain Silvia Dominguez destroyed the Ros Casares defence on Sunday, but she knows it's going to be a different story when the two teams meet again, this time on Russian soil|
By Jeff Taylor
Right about the time that Halcon Avenida captain Silvia Dominguez inbounded the ball off the back of Katie Douglas and then grabbed it before scoring an easy lay-up, everyone in Valencia on Sunday must have known what was about to happen.
Avenida were going to trounce hosts Ros Casares in the fourth quarter of the Liga Femenina game.
The home side, having lost power forward Sonia Reis to a season-ending knee injury in training just four days before and without starting center Rebekkah Brunson, who was kept out with knee tendinitis, were on the ropes for three quarters and trailed Avenida 57-49 entering the last frame.
Dominguez, Alba Torrens and the rest of the visitors lowered the boom over the last 10 minutes, outscoring the hosts 25-10 to claim a convincing 82-59 victory.
The Ros Casares players looked as low as they have at any time this season, including Cindy Lima.
"We have a lot of work to do," the Spain international said to Basketball World News.
"Right now, mentally, we're a little bit devastated but then again, we need to remember it's only a game.
"But to win the (Liga Femenina) competition, I'm not going to lie.
"It's going to be hard for us."
Everyone watching that game would have been thinking about another clash between the sides that is just around the corner.
The teams will meet on April 8 in Ekaterinburg, Russia, at the EuroLeague Women Final Four.
Alarm bells are ringing at Ros Casares.
They always do after blowouts, especially for a club that has been so dominant in Spain the past several years.
Lima, despite being in the doldrums, offered hope for the Ros Casares fans ahead of the European clash.
"The Final Four, it's completely different," she said.
"Honestly, in the EuroLeague, I don't know why but we are a completely different team.
|The absence of Rebekkah Brunson and Sonia Reis put a lot of weight on Cindy Lima's shoulders, but the Spanish center is confident a different Ros Casares will show up at the EuroLeague Women Final Four|
"We're strong and don't have these ups and downs like in the Spanish league. It's strange."
Ros have been impressive in the EuroLeague, winning 12 of their 15 games.
They swept Bourges 2-0 in their Quarter-Final tie.
"I don't have any doubt that it's going to be a completely different story in the EuroLeague," Lima said.
"We are one of the best teams in the EuroLeague."
For now, Avenida know they have Ros Casares' number.
Three times the teams have met this season and three times Lucas Mondelo's team has won.
If it wasn't Belinda Snell knocking down three-balls to lead the team with nine points at half-time of Sunday's game, it was EuroLeague Women All-Star Sancho Lyttle pouring in eight on high-flying moves in the lane.
There was also the sight of the whirling dervish of a captain, Silvia Dominguez.
The point guard tore apart Ros in the first half, repeatedly dribbling into the paint and drawing double-teams before passing to open teammates for easy lay-ups.
She had six assists to go with her four points at the break.
Even Dominguez predicted a different Ros Casares will show up in Ekaterinburg.
"I think the Final Four can be different," she said.
"Today, Ros Casares was not complete.
"Rebekkah Brunson is the most important player for them and she wasn't in the game. The Final Four for sure, they're going to be more concentrated."
Brunson was in street clothes and watching Sunday's game from the bench.
"It's pretty painful," she said of seeing her teammates get blown out.
"You always want to be able to contribute and help your team and it was unfortunate that I wasn't able to be out there and help today.
"I've never dealt with this before and I actually don't know what's going on, but I'm just going to do some rehab this week and put the pieces back together.
"We can definitely regroup from this. It wasn't our ideal game but you have to take whatever good you can out of the game."
One issue for Ros Casares has been the change of coaches.
The team replaced Jordi Fernandez after the first-round play-off series win against MKB Euroleasing Sopron with veteran campaigner Natalia Hejkova.
"It takes time, but I think we're definitely jelling and just have to work hard to get better," Brunson said.
Why are Avenida proving to be such a tough opponent for Ros?
"Apparently, we can't figure it out because we haven't been able to get one on them this season," Brunson said.
"But it's not too late and hopefully, we'll win when it matters.
"We haven't given up hope and I hope that no one else has, either. We're going to do what we have to do to get better, regroup make the best out of it. We'll win when we need to."
Torrens, by the way, was sensational for Avenida.
She is on the verge of superstardom.
The 21-year-old scores points in so many ways but her finest moment on Sunday came in the fourth quarter, when she scored seven of her 13 points.
Torrens grabbed a defensive rebound, quickly dribbled up the floor and, with no one picking her up, took the ball all the way to the basket for a coast-to-coast lay-up.