| ||Dominique Faurie has covered women's basketball all over Europe and will write regularly for FIBAEurope.com during the EuroLeague season.|
They did it! Ekaterinburg beat CSKA Moscow, thought by many to be the best team in Europe, twice to book a spot in the Final Four.
Gundars Vetra's team was ruling Euroleague and the Russian Superleague, but their time is over, and Ekaterinburg, winners in 2003, are back in Final Four.
This success is also a victory for Laurent Buffard who people in France still question as a great coach. I wonder why, clearly he is and this goes to prove it.
|Ekaterinburg's Quarter-Final upset of CSKA must have been gratifying for Laurent Buffard.|
Some say that he collected titles at Valenciennes (Two EuroLeague, six French League) only because he had the best players. It's a bit short of the truth, even if the same people will say he beat CSKA because he has an open account at the bank to buy players. Maybe, but he chose them, and made them play as a team.
Buffard had much to prove in this series with CSKA, and he did just that.
He was among the candidates to coach the French national team, whom he beat in EuroBasket Women as the coach of Belgium. In the end the French federation preferred Pierre Vincent.
He had to stop the best offense in EuroLeague, and won the final game despite CSKA pouring in 90 points, and he kept his former player, Ann Wauters, under her season scoring average.
He had to prove that the team he built was able to do great things. He took Harrower and Gruda from Valenciennes, they performed well, especially Gruda, who got an important offensive rebound with nine seconds to go on Friday. On top of that he mixed in new players before the eighth final. Leuchanka had a double-double against CSKA (14 points, 12 rebounds) while Aubert scored 10 points in 13 minutes.
So Buffard took his revenge on CSKA, who stopped him last year as the coach of Valenciennes and he is back in the Final Four.
Now, he just has to write a new story against... Spartak.
Far from an easy task but nothing comes easy in EuroLeague Women!
By the numbers
Only one Game Three will be required to decide the last spot in the Final Four, Valencia - Brno, on 5th March.
Cappie Pondexter was amazing against Bourges. 31 points in Game Two for the flying American. She's the
second leading scorer in EuroLeague behind Lauren Jackson but since Jackson has games left to play her numbers could come down.
|Dynamo were no match for Spartak without Jekabsone-Zogota.|
Spartak's winning margin against Dynamo who were too weak without Jekabsone-Zogota.
Three point percentage for Ekaterinburg against CSKA who finished 10 of 13!
Percentage of success for Kathy Wambe and Sandra Valuzyte in their EuroLeague picks as they announced in the last Faurie Files a 2-0 victory for Bourges and Spartak. Nuria Martinez expected tight games between CSKA and Ekaterinburg, they were. But she gave CSKA the edge 2-1. Don't trust her next time! We're waiting anxiously on Nicole Ohlde's performance as she predicted 2-1 for Brno against Valencia.
One doesn't speak much about Bourges, and Pierre Vincent probably doesn't mind. "To live happy is to live secret" as we say in France. But his team, led by a wonderful Celine Dumerc, is here again, stronger than last year. Do you know who suffered the smallest defeat against Ekaterinburg this season? Bourges. And who was the only team to beat the Russian giant in Euroleague? Bourges again. Don't forget this team in Final Four, after all they did survive the Pondexterminator!
Announced as the best team and unbeaten so far, the 2006 winners were dominated by Ekaterinburg. They only led two times in Game Two: 4-2 early on and 71-70 later in the game.
"The fate of the series was decided in Moscow "
-Gundars Vetra, head coach of CSKA