Sparta&K Dodge Good Angels Bullet

18 January 2012
25. Rebekka Hammon (Sparta&K Moscow Region)
Rebekka Hammon had 17 points for Sparta&K but also commited 7 turnovers

Young Russia center Natalie Vieru spent the previous five seasons competing alongside some of the best EuroLeague Women players of all time at Sparta&K Moscow Region.

On Wednesday, she almost led Good Angels Kosice to an upset of her former club in Vidnoje.

Vieru had 14 points and 13 rebounds but Pokey Chatman's Sparta&K made the plays when they had to and prevailed 68-65 in the EuroLeague Women Group C encounter.

The victory has assured Sparta&K (9-3), who won the first encounter against Good Angels, of at least a second-place finish in Group C while Kosice (7-5) will have to try and hold on to finish third.

Vieru wasn't the only former player Chatman had to coach against on Wednesday.

She also went up Jana Carnoká, Anna Jurcenkova and Lucia Kupcikova - a trio that competed under her at EuroBasket 2009 when she was the coach of Slovakia's national team.

The game was nip-and-tuck from start to finish.

Chatman's side threatened to lower the boom early when it went on a 12-0 to turn a 6-3 deficit into a 15-6 lead.

Kupcikova stopped the rot with two straight jump shots for Kosice, however, and following two Vieru free-throws, Miljana Bojovic scored to reduce the arrears to one.

EuroLeague Women rookie Helena Sverrisdóttir of Iceland then hit a jumper on a fast break for a 16-15 Good Angels lead.

The game remained tight into the third quarter.

Sparta&K got two free-throws from Irina Osipova and jump shots from Sonja Petrovic and Seimone Augustus to go on top, 44-38.

Good Angels didn't allow them to pull away, though.

Sparta&K's biggest advantage in the second half came with 6:16 to go in the game after Augustus drove in for a lay-up, but Stefan Svitek's side came right back.

Kupcikova and Danielle McCray then each made a couple of baskets to give the visitors a 59-58 lead with 4:39 to go.

Augustus came to the rescue for Sparta&K.

She went to the other end and her lay-up pushed the advantage back to one for the hosts.

The game went down to the wire.

After Vieru went up strong for a basket down low to cut the Sparta&K lead to 64-63, Candice Dupree caught a pass from Becky Hammon and drilled a jumper in transition to stretch the hosts' advantage back to three.

McCray replied with a jumper to make it a one-point game and Good Angels had a chance to get the ball back when Augustus missed a jumper, but Dupree claimed the offensive board against her former team.

Kosice fouled Hammon and she sank two free-throws.

The Slovakians had three seconds left and attempted a long inbounds pass.

They caught a break as the ball went out of bounds off a Sparta&K player.

Good Angels inbounded the ball from under their own basket to Sverrisdóttir on the left wing but her potential game-tying attempt from the arc hit the side of the backboard and stayed out.

Hammon had 17 points for Sparta&K but turned the ball over seven times.

For Kosice, who were out-rebounded 38-28, McCray led the way with 18 points and Kupcikova added 15.



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