|Candace Parker is back and, judging from her debut in the 2011 EuroLeague Women, she means business|
UMMC Ekaterinburg showed they could be the team to beat in the EuroLeague Women with a terrific performance at MKB Euroleasing Sopron.
With Candace Parker now in the fold after missing the first few months of the campaign while recovering from shoulder and knee operations, UMMC rolled to an 87-68 triumph.
Ekaterinburg (8-1) kept the pressure on Fenerbahce, who lead Group C with an 8-0 record and take on Lotos Gdynia in Poland on Thursday.
UMMC and Fener, who no longer have Diana Taurasi after Fener terminated the American's contract last week following a positive doping test, square off next week in Istanbul.
Parker looked as good as new at Sopron.
She tore apart the Hungarians while playing more than 28 minutes, making 10 of her 16 shots from the floor and all three free-throws.
She and Sopron's Amber Holt each had 23 points.
Parker poured 14 points before the break as Ekaterinburg claimed a 41-32 advantage.
Sopron scored a couple of early baskets at the beginning of the third quarter to close the gap to 43-36 but Sandrine Gruda and Parker replied with jump shots to spark a 12-0 run that stretched the UMMC advantage to 19.
The lead ballooned to 26 in the third quarter and Ekaterinburg cruised the rest of the way.
Sopron are not the force they were earlier in the season after letting their star player, Angel McCoughtry, join Fenerbahce following the last round of EuroLeague Women games in 2010.
UMMC Ekaterinburg Head Coach Gundars Vetra:
"Sopron is far away from us, but we're always happy if we can play here, in this nice gym, in this friendly atmosphere. And it's not easy to win here. That's why I'm very happy now. I wish Sopron the best."
UMMC Ekaterinburg player Olga Arteshina:
"We made a really good job today! I'm proud that we play in this level since the beginning of the season. We played exactly as a team."
MKB Euroleasing Sopron Head Coach Norbert Székely:
"It's always good to play against a perfect team as Ekaterinburg. The two clubs have big financial difference, but on the court are players. I'm happy that we could sometimes hide these differences during the game. I wish them to win the Euroleague Women."
MKB Euroleasing Sopron player Amber Holt:
"In the first half we were close, but later we had no chance. There are a lot of good players over there. We fought as much we can."