By Paul Nilsen
Svetlana Abrosimova certainly knows what it takes to land silverware and believes Dynamo Moscow will have to take care of her former team mate Asjha Jones if they are to grab a winners' medal against Kayseri Kaski spor in the EuroCup Women Final.
The Russian club hosts the first-leg game looking to gain a handy advantage by the time they step out in Turkey next week. According to Abrosimova, that means taking care of last season's EuroLeague Women MVP whom she played with on both sides of the world with UMMC Ekaterinburg and Connecticut Sun.
"I played with Asjha for many years and I know how powerful she can play in big games and what kind of team leader she can be," warned the 32 year old.
"After losing in the finals last year, I expect Kayseri to be extremely energised and hungry to win it this year.
"Evanthia Maltsi is an unbelievable shooter and I also expect her to be very aggressive in the Final too."
She added, "This Kayseri team have very good chemistry and they know how to win."
Absrosimova, who didn't step out for Dynamo until midway through the season, admitted her team hasn't exactly stormed their way to the Final of the competition but has simply come up with the goods at crucial times.
She said, "I feel like our team had a very good season and whilst I can't say that we dominated teams or we beat our opponents by a lot of points, we always found a way to win.
"Sometimes it was just our American players Kristi Toliver and Crystal Langhorne who carried us on their shoulders, or it was our post players Tatiana Vidmer and Nadezhda Grishaeva who gave us great games on the inside.
"At other times, it was just a real collective team effort."
She continued, "We were never perfect or outstanding, but we found ways to get to this Final.
"To win EuroCup Women, I feel like we need to step up defensively. We need to play with more toughness - both mentally and physically.
"We also have to be very aggressive in offence but also play under control."
Even though she is a veteran player and has pretty much seen it all during her career, it's the first time Abrosimova has competed for a medal in a home-and-away game format and it's something which adds to the intrigue and anticipation.
She confessed, "I have actually never played EuroCup Women before, and I think it has a very unique system.
"No matter what happens in the first game, there's always a second one to change things around.
"I'm just very excited to be part of these two games!"
|Abrosimova will be taking on former teammate Asjha Jones |
Form Guide: Dynamo Moscow have won five straight with only one loss at home in the EuroCup Women season, when they were edged out 55-54 in the regular season by Tarbes. They are 9-3 for the season in the competition and progressed to the final after beating BLMA in the last eight and then domestic rivals Chevakata in the semi-finals. In the Russian League, Dynamo are in fourth spot with a 10-5 record after being swept aside at UMMC Ekaterinburg last weekend. Kayseri Kaski Spor are 8-2 in EuroCup Women and have lost two road games - their season opener at Horizont in Belarus and at Dynamo Kursk whom they edged out in the quarter-finals, before beating MBK Ruzomberok in the last four. They are in fourth place in the Turkish League with a 15-6 record, having spent brief spells in second spot.
The Hot Hands: Langhorne has had a sensational year for Dynamo Moscow. She is averaging a near season double-double of 16.5 points and 9.4 rebounds-per-game and has the third best shooting percentage in the tournament at 60.2%. In the backcourt, Toliver is averaging an excellent 15.4 points and 4.8 rebounds-per-game and has the second most assists of anyone with 4.7 per-game. Veteran Greek shooter Maltsi has reminded us all why she is a former EuroBasket Women MVP by rolling back the years with a fine season for Kayseri. She is pouring in 19.4 points-per-game, having recaptured her devastating three-point shooting form and also by making 31-of-33 free-throws - the most accurate free-throw shooting in EuroCup Women.
‘X Factors': This could be tight across the context of the tie with little to separate the teams on paper or statistically. The defence of Spanish guard Nuria Martinez on Dynamo Moscow danger Toliver will be important - if indeed this is what Kayseri opt for in terms of a defensive strategy. Equally, the little things are going to count, such as Kayseri not allowing Irina Skolovskaya any room on the perimeter to make triples. This has slipped under the radar a little, but she is 50% from long-range and notably, tends to score them in bunches - and when it matters. As for Dynamo, perhaps they need to take care of an ‘X-Factor player in the shape of Zoi Dimitrakou who was one-of-six last time out, but was inspirational and hugely productive in the three games before that for Kayseri.