|Ros Casares French point guard Edwige Lawson knows Bourges coach Pierre Vincent very well and has nothing but respect for him|
By Paul Nilsen
They say familiarity can breed contempt but don't expect anything other than mutual respect when Ros Casares and Bourges Basket meet in the quarter-finals of EuroLeague Women.
For having already faced each other twice so far during the Qualifying Round, both sets of players know each other's attributes well and to underline the mutual respect, Ros Casares guard Edwige Lawson has paid tribute to Bourges Coach Pierre Vincent ahead of the game by singling out the play-caller as the main strength of the French Club.
"Pierre Vincent he is a great trainer." explained the French point guard.
"He has been with the club for many years and knows to prepare and to read these situations very well. I am sure that he will make it very difficult for us.
"The key for them will be an eliminatory one. Their great force is their defensive work, something they have demonstrated already to us in the first stage when we played against them," added Lawson.
Progress So Far - Ros Casares finished top of Group D in the Qualifying Round with 8 wins and two losses and then took three games to see off MKB EuroLeasing in the Eighth-Finals. Bourges finished second in Group D with a 7-3 record and then had to work hard to overcome Good Angels Kosice 2-1 to secure their place in the last eight of the competition.
Previous Match Ups - The first meeting during the Qualifying Round saw Ros Casares complete a 74-47 rout but Bourges extracted revenge with a sweet 58-55 victory on home soil during December when they came back from a double-digit deficit.
|Bourges guard Maja Miljkovic believes the fact the two teams know each other so well by now will only add to the intensity of the play-off series|
Current Form - Ros Casares have won five of their last six games in EuroLeague Women with the loss coming two games ago against MKB EuroLeasing in Sopron. Domestically, the club is tied at the top of Liga Femenina with arch rivals Halcon Avenida who have also won 18 games and lost only once. Bourges has won four of their last six games in the tournament after also losing on the road during the eighth-finals. At home, they continue to lead the French league with an 18-1 record.
What They Say
Bourges guard Maja Miljkovic: "It has been a long road from the beginning of the season until now but we want to continue. We feel as though we don't have anything to lose. Both teams and players know each other very well and for sure it will be an interesting series. It will be a real fight but in my opinion, we have a good opportunity to win."
Ros Casares guard Katie Douglas: "I think we can expect a very physical and technical series with Bourges. We have played them twice already in the previous round so each team is very familiar with one another. They are very well coached and prepared as a team and play great as a unit. We must try to disrupt their timing offensively and must play extremely well defensively to create easy offensive opportunities off our defence.
"They are a very tough team to play in the half-court so we are trying to find a good rhythm and balance in playing both transition and half court basketball. Obviously we have been making some changes to our game both defensively and offensively with the addition of our new head coach and I would like to think that we have improved our efficiency offensively but this series will be the indicator.
"Coach Hejkova has been great thus far by really putting us in a position every day to be successful. She brings a different mentality to the team and we have definitely embraced it and are going to show this during the next round. I know that both the staff and the players have been working extremely hard and are very focused on the first game."
The Hot Hands - Both Katie Douglas and Rebekkah Brunson continue to hold the offensive key for Ros Casares and have been consistent both during the regular season and also the knockout stage. Stella Kaltsidou exploded for Bourges last time out with a EuroLeague Women Player Of The Week performance to help them past Good Angels Kosice while Cathy Joens has harvested a double digit return in seven of her last eight games.
X Factors - To say this could be something of a war may be exaggerating. Just expect two or three extremely bruising battles involving a couple of very physical teams. For Ros Casares, getting the right balance and picking their poison offensively will be vital. Controlling the defensive glass to give themselves the option of trying to push hard in transition is vital.
That means a monumental battle on the boards between Brunson and Emmeline Ndongue who is a more than proficient offensive rebounder. Similarly, the hosts will hope to capitalise on their ability to pressure the ball more effectively than Bourges and claim the steals to run the floor. Bourges will be happy to keep things tight and slow the game down and it will be intriguing to see if they can manage to control the tempo sufficiently to make it the kind of half-court game they will probably want.
Did You Know? - Neither team has a player in the top twenty list for dishing out assists in EuroLeague Women this season.