by Johannes Bayer
Dewanna Bonner put up some nice numbers for Frisco Sika Brno in their 67-64 Eighth-Finals Game 2 defeat to Rivas Ecopolis.
She played 38 minutes, scored 27 points, corralled nine rebounds - six on the offensive glass - and only turned the ball over once.
|Dewanna Bonner is in her first season in a European competition|
Her seven-for-20 shooting could have been a little better, but that's splitting hairs. She did a little bit of everything and did it well although Brno lost to set up a deciding third game.
While sitting courtside in Brno on Friday, I was struck by Bonner's height.
Listed as a guard at 1.93m, she played power forward the entire time against Rivas.
She is clearly a player who feels more comfortable with her face to the basket. Together with her more than solid mid-range shooting and her long arms, maybe the best way to describe her is that she is Brno's Scottie Pippen.
Similar to Phil Jackson letting Pippen bring the ball up the court in the glory days of the Bulls, Brno coach Jan Bobrovsky allows Bonner to do the same.
So just as Pippen was a point forward, maybe that's the best way to describe Bonner.
Madrid tried to pressure Czech veteran point guard Hana Horakova full court and Bonner was more than capable of getting the ball past midcourt.
With only six players eating up nearly all of minutes these days for Brno because of injuries, Bonner was crucial.
She set a slower pace than Rivas preferred.
That also allowed Horakova to remain fresh.
Horakova had enough fuel in tank, in fact, to lead Brno in a comeback from a double-digit deficit and they nearly won the game.
The flip side of Bonner playing point guard was also quite obvious. Brno struggled at times to find their rhythm and it also contributed to problems in their offensive execution.
They were forced into some bad shots with the clock running down.
Rivas looked well prepared for Game 2.
Javier Fort's team switched on every screen, which in theory would have led to plenty of mismatches under the basket. But Bonner and Taj McWilliams weren't able to capitalize.
Eva Viteckova and fellow perimeter players Jelena Skerovic and Horakova did not use their superior speed against Rivas' big players.
|Veteran point guard Hana Horakova showed that she is not leaving the competition without a fight in the almost comeback on Friday|
This left all the initiative with Bonner who often enough found herself on the perimeter with the ball and time running down.
She did her best to create out of those situations and often drew fouls.
Bonner took 15 trips to the free-throw line. But Brno failed to get the rest of the team going. Everybody seemed to watch Bonner and forgot how to be aggressive.
Before Horakova erupted in the final minutes, it seemed like Bonner was playing on her own with everybody else standing still.
Brno's situation in terms of injuries and roster size will not change by Wednesday.
That means no Slovakian point guard Zuzana Zirkova and no Czech center Petra Kulichova.
With Bobrovsky hesitant to play Ramona Stehlikova and talented youngster Alena Hanusova and Hollie Grima also playing well below 20 minutes, the load will have to be carried by the five starters again.
Against a Spanish side that is 10 players deep and could afford to play sharpshooter and EuroLeague Women All-Star Catherine Joens for only 12 minutes in Game 2, much will depend on offensive rhythm.
In the first game in Madrid, four Brno players scored in double digits with Australia international Grima contributing nine. If the Czech side can have this kind of balance and repeat this, another road win could be possible.
Brno do have experienced EuroLeague Women players and that will help them.
For Rivas Ecopolis, much will depend on how quickly Fort finds the right mix.
He tried several combinations on Friday, with Chrystal Langhorne and Jelena Dubljevic being the only constant forces on the court.
But when he finally figured out the guard mix of Clara Bermejo, Anna Cruz and Begona Garcia, his team took off.
Stakes are high Wednesday night in Madrid with the winner having a real chance to advance to the Final Four against either Wisla Can-Pack or MiZo Pecs.