The big day is coming! Who will take Spartak's Euroleague crown? Will it be a Spartak repeat or will Ekaterinburg, Brno or Bourges take home the title? In the last three seasons, the club who organized the Final Four kept the cup: Samara in 2005, Brno in 2006, and Spartak in 2007.
We asked some of our experts what they thought about this Czech spring. Before the quarter final round, Sandra Valuzyte (TEO Vilnius), Kathy Wambe (Villeneuve d'Ascq) and Nicole Ohlde (Valenciennes) gave relevant analysis.
They respectfully predicted the 2-0 win for Spartak against Dynamo, a 2-0 victory for Bourges against
Fenerbahce, and Brno's 2-1 win against Valencia. What they have to say ahead of the final is not a great surprise: to them, Spartak is THE favorite, even if Ohlde is hedging her bets. To them again, Brno will overcome Bourges, for a Final of Spartak and Brno.
|Sonja Kireta is the key to a less than impressive Bourge offense.|
The Russians won twice, by similar scores (85-76 at home, with 32 points for Taurasi and 85-77 away behind 33 points from Jackson). It's also worth noting that a Bourges - Ekaterinburg final would also be a replay of a first round games, because Group B and C qualified two teams each in Final Four. UMCC won in Le Prado 57-56 while Bourges took their revenge in Ural 64-62.
Will Ekaterinburg or Brno or Bourges prevent a second victory for Bird, Taurasi, Schegoleva and Jackson? Buffard's squad surprised CSKA in the quarter final and the French coach is a specialist in the Final Four.
Thousands of fans will push behind Brno and Bourges's defense, the best in the Euroleague, can destroy anybody. Their defense has to be strong to compensate for a rather weak attack, which nevertheless increased it's level against Fenerbahce, but where the top scorer (Kireta) only scores 12.6 points per game.
Sandra Valuzyte (Lithunia, TEO Vilnius)
"I think Spartak will win. I spoke with my friend Yelena Leuchanka, who left Vilnius for Ekaterinburg. They have a good team, but for me Spartak's players are without equivalent. I know that, because I met them. I saw Brno against Valencia on TV. I like the way they play, with three tall players. I think they'll be in the Final."
Kathy Wambe (Belgium, Villeneuve-d'Ascq)
"Spartak is the great favorite. They're very impressive, they have the greatest talent but they can also play as a team. I went to Valenciennes to see them play. To me, they'll no doubt win, easily I would even say.
I think Brno will be the other finalist. They're used to this pressure, this kind of event, and will play at home. I think Bourges is a bit less strong actually. They lost in the French League in Challes so they might be tired physicaly."
Nicole Ohlde (USA, Valenciennes)
"I think Spartak will win, but I'm not sure about it. Any team can be European Champion, because they're all really competitive, even if the most talented is Spartak. But Bourges has experience from last year, and when I played against them I saw that Brno has a very disturbing defense with tall players."
Spartak - Ekaterinburg
By the numbers:
Offense: 86.4 (2nd) Offense 80.9 (3rd)
Defense: 67.1 (6th) Defense 63.1 (3rd)
Top scorer: Jackson 23.2 ppg (1st) Top scorer: Bibrzycka 15.6 ppg (13th)
Brno - Bourges
By the numbers:
Offense 69 (13th) Offense: 78.3 (4th)
Defense 61.1 (1st) Defense: 65.9 (4th)
Top scorer: Kireta 12.6 (38th) Top scorer: Zirkova 14.4 (21th)