This week we continue to break down the quarter-finals by talking with several players about the squads they met in previous rounds and how they see the match-ups playing out.
So let's continue our tour and study the Russian side of the story with Dynamo Moscow star Nuria Martinez on fellow Russians Ekaterinburg taking on CSKA, and Sandra Valuzyte on Dynamo Moscow's series with Spartak Moscow Region, one they may have to play without Anete Jekabsone-Zogota due to injury.
CSKA Moscow - Ekaterinburg
Nuria Martinez, the Spanish point guard of Dynamo Moscow for two years now, is familiar with Russian giants.
|Laurent Buffard will have to figure out a way to stop the EuroLeague's b est offense.|
She'll follow this series with interest, especially the performance of her friend Amaya Valdemoro, who she played with this summer at EuroBasket Women 2007.
"These two teams both deserve to be in the Final Four, but only one can make it. They always have beaten us in the Russian Superleague this season, but one week ago we only lost to Ekaterinburg by two points."
"Ekaterinburg is quite a new team, with a new coach. They have lot of stars, but they look a bit tired actually. The strength of this team is their three-point shooters, like Bibrzycka."
"CSKA play more like a team. They have known each other for a long time now, and this is very important. Perhaps they're even better this season than last year. They are very impressive inside, with Stepanova and Wauters, and they have Amaya Valdemoro. She has been injured, but everything is okay now. She's a great player, with a lot of character who loves this kind of game."
"I think CSKA will win this series. Maybe 2-0, but I'll say 2-1."
By the numbers
CSKA Moscow Ekaterinburg
Offense 87.7 (1st) Offense 79.8 (4th)
Defense 63.7 (4th) Defense 60 (2nd)
Scoring margin: +24 (1st) Scoring margin: +19.8 (2nd)
Top scorer: Wauters 18 Top scorer: Bibrzycka 16
These two teams held the highest average margin of victory in the EuroLeague and CSKA has a terrific offense. Will Buffard manage to stop them with is iron defense? His two Aussies (Harrower and Taylor) beat Stepanova, Korstin and Co. in the World Championship final.
Spartak Moscow - Dynamo Moscow
Lithuania and TEO Vilnius guard Sandra Valuzyte played in her eighth EuroLeague Women this season, though she's only 26.
This year's trip ended in the Eighth Final against Spartak (2-0), after finishing fourth in group D behind Dynamo.
Here are her thoughts on the Dynamo-Spartak series.
"I'm worried for Dynamo. They have strong individual players, I mean four very good players, and of course Jekabsone-Zogota (the 2007 FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year). But if she's not there (due to injury), their Russian players are not as strong as Spartaks Russian players. They beat us in their gym by 27 points, but we beat them at home by six."
"When they get in front Spartak are very, very strong, even if I think that CSKA could ultimately will win EuroLeague. When we played against Spartak, I never felt that we had a chance to win. We lost by only 12 points at home, but only because they made a lot of changes in the last 15 minutes."
"This is a star team, and Lauren Jackson is so impressive. She's a great all-around player; she shoots three-pointers like a guard and she rebounds like an inside player. I think Spartak will win 2-0."
By the numbers
Spartak Moscow Dynamo Moscow
Offense 84.6 (2nd) Offense 73.7 (7th)
Defense 67.8 (6th) Defense 69.8 (7th)
Scoring margin: 16.8 (3rd) Scoring margin: 3.9 (7th)
Top scorer: Jackson (23.3) Top scorer: Jekabsone-Zogota (22.0)
Spartak (third in scoring margin) are one of the elite teams in the world. Their defeat in Gdynia is a distant memory. Moscow hasn't been that impressive during the first round, and eighth-final, but have faced difficult moments and survived. The dual between the two best scorers of Euroleague, Jackson and Jekabsone-Zogota, might not be as the Latvian star is injured.