Russian side Batliskaya Zwezda secured glory in the FIBA Europe Cup Women, and the first European title in their 5-year history thanks to a 68:64 win over Hungarian opponents Mav Coop Szolnoki.
Demya Walker was the MVP of the Final Four and the key figure in
|Gina Farmer (MAV COOP)|
The Hungarians took some time to find their feet and they could only make 3/9 shots in the opening quarter. Baltiskaya settled in earlier, particularly Ioulia Mironova who scored 7 first quarter points and Irinia Routkovskaia who netted 4 points and dished 4 assists.
The first period finished 15:19 and the start of the second saw Baltiskaya continue to assert themselves. Walker scored 6 early points and suddenly the Hungarians were down 8 (19:27), forcing Szolnoki coach Peter Tapodi to call time-out.
Whatever the coach said in the timeout worked wonders, because Szolnoki came out after the break and totally dominated their opponents. Forward Gina Farmer was suddenly red hot from the floor and she scored 8 points to spark a 15:0 run for her team.
From 8 points down, Szolnoki had build a 6-point lead by halftime (36:30) and were in total control of the game. In contrast Balitskaya’s woes were compounded when Mironova picked up a 4th foul before the halftime break.
The beginning of the second half brought little change to the style of the game and Szolnoki remained in the driver’s seat. Baltiskaya coach Kira Trzheskal made the risky decision of leaving Mironova in the game, but it proved to be wise. She hit 2 three-pointers early in the 3rd quarter, the second of which brought her team to within 1-point, 43:42.
Both teams traded baskets and then Walker, whose aggressive defense was a huge plus for her side, came up with a steal and pass to Mironova for an uncontested lay-up and the lead, 45:48.
It was Szolonoki who took a small points advantage lead into the final quarter, but the momentum was firmly in favour of the Russian team. Mironova, who played almost the entire second half with 4 fouls, hit her 4th three-pointer to give Baltiskaya a 51:54 lead, which they would not surrender.
It was Walker who was the consistent presence for her team in her 35 minutes of court-time, but the experienced Elena Shakirova led them home. She scored 8 of her 14 points in
|Demya Walker (Baltiyskaya Zwezda)|
Mironova was the game’s high scorer and she finished with 18 points on 4/7 3-point shooting. Walker’s statistics were perhaps not quite impressive but her willingness to chase down every loose ball and never-give-in style made her a unanimous MVP choice.
Gina Farmer had an outstanding game for Szolonoki and finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. Angela Delmis was the only other Hungarian player to crack double figures and she had 10 points.
Peter Tapodi, Head Coach, Mav Coop Szolonoki:
“We made too many mistakes against a strong team. We do not have much international experience or many players with experience and sometimes we play scared. When we are strong mentally we can play well.”
Kira Trzheskal, Head Coach, Baltiskaya Zwezda:
“I don’t feel anything right now because the game was difficult so it is hard to feel something. Going into the game we knew it would be tough, but when we were losing we weren’t thinking about a victory or loss.
“At halftime I asked my players to fight hard and that is what they did.”
“This victory is important for us because we are a young team. Hopefully this will bring us some money so we can develop our club.”
Demya Walker, Baltskaya Zwezda:
“This was amazing and exciting. It is the first championship I have won in my career and to be MVP is great.”
“When we were down we didn’t panic at all which is typical of our game and characteristic of our team. We didn’t play our best today but we stuck together and had great chemistry.