|Céline Dumerc top-scored for Bourges|
Tango Bourges continued their dominance over Good Angels Kosice after opening up their EuroLeague Women play-off series with a 59-51 success against the Slovakian champions.
Having already beaten their opponents in the battle for third place at the Final Eight last year, then twice during the first phase of the competition this season, Valerie Garnier and her team claimed yet another victory against their rivals.
With defences reigning supreme throughout and nobody able to convert from long-range on a consistent basis, it proved to be a real war of attrition.
Bourges got themselves on top in the first twelve minutes as veteran center Emmeline Ndongue made it 26-15.
Kosice desperately needed a response and it arrived via a 10-3 run, as a rare triple from Jia Perkins got them back into things.
The difference was five points at the interval and still the same six minutes into the second-half, when Tijana Krivacevic scored for the visitors.
Then, just when Bourges looked like pulling away again, the legendary Zuzana Zirkova firstly drained a three-ball for Kosice and then a jump-shot either side of the third and fourth quarter break, to give her team real hope of success.
But, a 12-0 run by Bourges culminating in a three-pointer by Celine Dumerc, blew their prospects clean out of the water and set the hosts on the path to victory.
Perkins and Zirkova shared 26 points in defeat and Dumerc inked a game-high 18 points for the triumphant French side.
Valérie Garnier, Tango Bourges coach:
"We were really good in defense tonight but we lost our composure under the Kosice pressure. We have two days to analyse the game and correct our small mistakes, especially in defensive rebounds. Tonight we gave them too many second chances to score. The girls know the things to change. Kosice is really hard on defense, they can put hard pressure, and we have to manage our emotions and learn to take our time in attack."
Céline Dumerc, Tango Bourges:
“It was a real fight, both teams want to go to the Final 8. Maybe the game was not so nice to watch but it's always like that at the play-offs. We made a lot of mistakes. At times we’d thought the game was won and lost our concentration. We let Kosice come back to the game. The most important was to win, now we know it's going to be hard to win the second game we need."
Maros Kovacic, Good Angels Kosice coach:
"The key of the game is the third quarter when we fought really hard but we scored only 8 points. At this moment we could have broken the game [open]. Of course we will watch the game video. One thing to change is to adjust our zone defense."
Jia Perkins, Good Angels Kosice:
"We played great defense tonight but the offense was not so great. At the third quarter we missed a lot of opportunities to come definitively back into the game. Bourges made a good game tonight. Now we just have to win in Kosice on Friday."