By Paul Nilsen
|24. Crystal Langhorne (Dynamo Moscow)|
It's been an excellent campaign so far for Dynamo Moscow and the main thrust behind their success in reaching the semi-final stage of EuroCup Women has been Crystal Langhorne.
The front court specialist is averaging 18.2 points and nine rebounds per game on the back of 63.8% shooting from the field.
Dynamo Moscow are competing just as admirably on the domestic scene as they are in wider Europe, having grabbed the bronze medal in the Russian Cup Final Four and currently sit in second spot in the league, making it happy days for Langhorne and Co.
"I think I am just in a good fit" Langhorne offered as an explanation for her current form.
"This is my second year playing for Dynamo and my team does a great job of getting me the ball in areas where I can be successful."
Dynamo come into their match-up with Chevakata Vologda with their tails high, having defeated French League leaders Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration in both games of their Quarter-Final match-up with Langhorne shining, going 16-for-23 from the floor across both legs.
The first-leg tie marks the beginning of the third consecutive trip to the EuroCup Women Semi-Finals for Chevakata, but as of yet, Dmitry Donskov's troops have not been able to leap the final hurdle to make it to the Championship game.
"I fully expect a good match up from Chevakata since they play extremely hard and also have a good group of players," said Langhorne looking ahead to Thursday's clash.
"The most important thing for us to get to the Final is that we both rebound and defend."
Asides from the individual displays from Langhorne, it has been the teamwork of Dynamo which has really impressed. They have shot the ball well as a unit and are also the best rebounding team in the competition.
However, Chevakata have also found some real form in EuroCup Women this season and will be no walkover.
They destroyed Hainaut Basket in the quarter-finals and will now be looking to make amends against their opponents who grabbed a 69-61 victory in Vologda on the first day of the Russian domestic competition and then registered an 81-55 blowout last month.
The hopes of Chevakata will rest primarily on the shoulders of Glory Johnson, one of the EuroCup Women players of the season so far with a near-perfect rookie season.
She has been on fire since taking to the court for her new team and leads the tournament in double-doubles with six. Her stats make for good reading with 17.4 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Johnson will need good support from the Belarus star Katsiaryna Snytsina who possesses a deadly perimeter game, whilst also running her team's offence. Should these two combine well, Chevakata will go a long way to assure that they do not crash out at this stage of EuroCup Women at the hands of Dynamo Moscow for the second year running.