|Dominique Faurie has covered women's basketball all over Europe and will write regularly for FIBAEurope.com during the EuroLeague season.|
Four Opals will be fighting for the golden crown in at the Final Four. One is at Bourges, two at Ekaterinburg and the big one at Spartak Moscow.
Kristi Harrower: The experience
Kristi Lee Harrower has been a key cog in the UMMC Ekaterinburg machine.
At 33 Kristi Harrower, born in 1975, is the old hand of our foursome. The small guard has a lot of experience. She has played in the EuroLeague with four different teams (Wuppertal 2001, Aix 2004, Valenciennes 2006, 2007 and Ekaterinburg 2008) and she followed Laurent Buffard from Valenciennes to Ekaterinburg this summer.
Tough on defense and with a strong mental toughness, she's a leader. Though her first half of season was a bit disappointing, far from the 11 points per game she collected in Brazil during the World Champioship in 2006. The arrival of Aubert as a contestant, and the "money time" player of the competition pushed the "Shrimp", as she's called, to give her best. Big players never miss big games.
Born: 4.3.1975 in Bendigo
Height: 1.63 m
Numbers this season: 5.7 ppg (33.3% 2 pt, 36% 3 pt, 75% FT), 3 rpg, 4.2 apg
Season high: 10 pt against Bourges and Villeneuve d'Ascq
World Championship 2006: 11.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.9 apg
Lauren Jackson: The star
You know what? Lauren Jackson is a great player. OK, you knew that to be true and it's easy to be a star when you're called Jackson. Michael, Lauren, they both just beat it but she is tough to beat to be sure.
She is probably the best player of the world. She is the youngest player to get more than 4000 points in WNBA and tied the record for points in a game (47), and was logically the MVP of last season. The best part is she's just getting started.
Born: 11.05.1981 in Albury
Height: 1.95 m
Numbers this season: 23.2 ppg (62.2% 2 pt. 54.8% 3 pt, 91.1% FT), 6.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
Season high: 34 pt (in 23 minutes against Namur, 28 minutes against Vilnius)
World Championship 2006: 21.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg.
Penny Taylor: Most Valuable Penny
2006 was her season. She was the Queen of Brazil and the 2006 World Championships, with 28 points in the Final against Russia and 26 in the semi-final.
Penny Taylor is 25 years-old, and deserved her MVP title, but times goes quickly. The following months were a nightmare and her second season in Schio, after a shinning first year, was a struggle as she missed eight of the 10 games with an injured hand. Her Italian team finished the Euroleague without a single victory. Laurent Buffard knew she didn't give her real value, and took her to the far east. There, she showed what she could do with more than 11 points and six rebounds per game.
Born: 24.05.1981 in Mount Waverley
Numbers this season: 11.3 ppg (56.1% 2 pt. 37.5% 3 pt. 81.4% FT) 6.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
Season high: 18 pt (against Salamanca and CSKA Moscow)
2006 World Championship: 18 points per game
Belinda Rose Snell: The unsung soldier
It seems easy to be a great player, just look at Jackson, Taylor and Snell. All you have to do is be born in Australia, in 1981.
The Bourges forward is the less known of the four magnificent Australians, but she's the kind of player every coach dreams of having on his team. Her second year far from home, after a season in La Spezia, was a success. She arrived in Bourges with her boyfriend and the town fell in love with her. A strong mental and physical character she's an important key in Pierre Vincent's team, unbeaten in France. She defends, gets rebounds, and doles out assists with a strong collective sense (8th in assists in EuroLeague). She scores as well, with 20 points in the game against Fenerbahce and she has become an important three-point shooter (41% in French League) If you don't know her, you'll smell Snell's perfume in Brno.
Born: 10.01.1981 in Mirboo North
Height: 1.80 m, 80 kg
Numbers this season: 12.5 ppg, (48.7% 2 pt, 27.1% 3 pt, 82.1% FT) 3.9 rpg, 4 apg
Season high: 20 points (vs. Salamanca and Fenerbahce)
2006 World Championship: 11.1 points per game