Pressure Mounts For Ros


No team's path to the Final Four is easy once the quarter-finals arrive.

That fact is probably what's helping Ros Casares remain calm ahead of their last-eight tie with Gambrinus Sika Brno, the champions of two seasons ago.

Ros Casares, who reached the final last year before falling to hosts Spartak Moscow Region, lost for the first time in Europe this season in Game Two of their eighth-finals clash with US Valenciennes in France.

Katie Douglas (Ros Casares)
Katie Douglas has Ros Casares' leading scorer in EuroLeague.
But they bounced back to seal their progression with a 70-46 victory in Valencia.

After that game, Ros Casares star Laia Palau admitted to Basketball World News: "It's going to be very complicated against Brno.

"Gambrinus is a team that I would never want to face.

"They have big players, they knocked me and Bourges out of the Final Four (two years ago) so I know how dangerous they can be.

"They have experience, too. It's a team that has been playing together for several years."

By virtue of their unbeaten season in Group D, though, Ros have home court advantage against Gambrinus as they finished second in their pool to Spartak Moscow Region.

"I think the only thing that saves us is our home court," Palau said. "We must make it very tough for them in Valencia, build a barrier.

"Few teams have succeeded to beat us at La Fonteta."

Palau can also draw strength from one of her greatest moments as a player, which came against many of these same Gambrinus players when they were representing the Czech Republic at the 2004 Olympics.

The Spanish left-hander Palau pulled up from behind the three-point arc, released a shot and watched the ball fall through the rim as the buzzer sounded to take the game to overtime.

Spain eventually won, and used the success as a launch pad for a run to the quarter-finals.

This team has been created to go to the Final Four. The fact that we achieved that last season means that we are capable of reaching that aim.
Laia Palau
Ros Casares

What has yet to be proved is if this year's Ros Casares team is better than the one that played last year.

This season's team has won the Super Copa, and last weekend captured the Copa del Rey.

Palau does think the Spanish outfit is at least as strong as last year's.

"This team has been created to go to the Final Four," she said.

"The fact that we achieved that last season means that we are capable of reaching that aim, but it's difficult. As the competition progresses, it becomes more challenging."

When a team is "created to go to the Final Four" then, there is undoubtedly going to be immense pressure on the broad shoulders of Palau and her teammates.

If they do not reach the semi-finals, they will be about as good as the New England Patriots, who were on the verge of the first-ever 19-0 season in the NFL this year but lost a thrilling Super Bowl to the New York Giants.

Now, more than one 18-1 shirt has been spotted in the Big Apple, reminding Pats fans that they not only lost a chance to make history, but also suffered defeat in the championship.

"We are aware of our responsibilities, for ourselves, for the club and our fans," Palau said.

"Brno have a similar standard to us and it's a very difficult tie against them but we must focus all our energy on advancing to the Final Four. That is our task.

"We have plenty of good players to overcome the Brno obstacle and to go to the Final Four."

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