|Pierre Vincent believes the key for Bourges tonight will be to perform as they did in the second half of the first game in Valencia|
Bourges Basket boss Pierre Vincent wasn't angry after his team's 65-58 defeat at Ros Casares on Tuesday in the EuroLeague Women Eighth-Finals.
He took the loss in his stride, reminding everyone that his young squad is a work in progress.
And in no way, he said, is the series over.
"It's hard," he admitted to Basketball World News.
"They (Ros Casares) have a really strong team, a big team.
"We're a very young team and sometimes, the pressure of the event, we don't develop the game we want to develop."
Vincent has proven in the past with Bourges, and as the coach of France, that his teams can bounce back and make life awkward for any opponents.
What he says Bourges must not do is get off to such a bad start.
On Tuesday night, they were stuck in first gear for the first 20 minutes and trailed by 16 points.
"I think we did better on defense, but the problem is on offense," Vincent said.
"The referees allow everything and when they do that, you have to play harder.
"We are not used to that, to playing this way.
"We missed a lot of lay-ups.
"We were going for the contact instead of making the lay-up."
Bourges were so out of sync that even with Ros Casares struggling, the French outfit trailed 34-18 late in the second quarter.
They regrouped at half-time, though, got the ball to Catherine Joens and then rode her hot shooting to get back into the game.
The American sharpshooter hit three shots from behind the arc as part of a 17-4 to begin the second half.
With 5:44 to go in the third quarter, Bourges only trailed 38-37.
After the teams traded baskets, Bourges twice had opportunities to go ahead but didn't take them.
Katie Douglas made a lay-up, buried a three-ball and nailed a jump shot inside the arc for a 47-39 lead.
During that Douglas scoring burst, the Ros Casares defense forced Bourges to commit two 24-second shot-clock violations.
Douglas would go on to score 27 points.
|Catherine Joens' sharp shooting allowed Bourges to attempt a comeback when it looked like Ros would run away with it|
"We came back, but it's hard," Vincent said.
"We have some problems when they push us for the 24-second shot clock violation.
"I think at home, though, it will not be the same game.
"I think we improved how we played on offense in the second half, so that is good.
"Now, we have to do it again for the whole game and I think we can compete."
What are the chances of Bourges winning this best-of-three game series?
"For us, we lost last year in Salamanca (Eighth-Finals), so we're happy to be here and competing," Vincent said.
"I think we have the possibility, not a big one, but a possibility of going further.
"For sure, we'll fight until the end."
As for the change of coach at Ros, with Nata Hejkova replacing Jordi Fernandez, Vincent said: "We didn't know the way that they wanted to play.
"Now that we have played them, we'll have a better idea, but it will still be difficult."
There was also the outstanding play of Sonia Reis, the Portuguese international who played in just her fourth EuroLeague Women game for Ros Casares but looked every bit the part of a star in the making.
"I didn't know her," Vincent admitted.
"She's athletic, has a good shot from outside. It was a surprise for us. We'll try to make adjustments.
"But that isn't the big difference. The difference is Douglas. We controlled Rebbekah Brunson well but not Douglas."
For her part, Hejkova is facing one of the more interesting challenges in her career.
She's at the helm of a big club but doesn't have much time to get the team to learn her system.
Add to that the quick turnaround for Game 2 and it's even more complicated.
Hejkova said: "In 72 hours, you cannot change many things. Bourges will again rely on their defensive work while we must play the game full of concentration if we want to win."
Laia Palau, who missed the last two games of the Eighth-Finals triumph over MKB Euroleasing Sopron, said: "We have to improve on everything. Against Bourges, we had limited offense because we had little time to prepare under our new coach.
"We have a long way to go and that was evident in this game.
"We cannot lead by such a big margin and let our rivals get back in the game. We know at Bourges it will be a different contest because they are much stronger when playing at home and we need to be focused from start to finish."
Palau knows very well what it's like to play in Bourges because she was once on the books of the club.
"Bourges is a city that lives of and for this basketball team," she said.
"Their arena is always full with more than 3,000 fans that don't stop cheering.
"Few teams have managed to win there."