|Katie Douglas was one of the main reasons Ros Casares beat Bourges in Game 1. She finished with a game-high 27 points, on 57% shooting from the floor|
Preview by Paul Nilsen
EuroLeague Women star Ann Wauters believes Ros Casares are favourites to progress to the Final Four but has warned it will be a tough ask to seal the deal with a win in Bourges.
The UMMC Ekaterinburg forward who is currently out of action due to her pregnancy was on hand to watch the first game of the series in Valencia earlier this week, as a guest of her close friend Edwige Lawson.
Wauters certainly knows what it takes to not only reach Final Four but also finish top of the podium and she will have relished watching the intense physical battle in the paint which, rather crucially, the Spanish side edged.
That has given them the upper hand as they look to pile the pressure on Bourges for the second game.
Wauters believes Ros are in pole position but will find life tough in France on a court where they have already tasted defeat this season after being beaten by Bourges during the Qualifying Round.
"I took advantage of my pregnancy break to visit my good friend Edwige Lawson," the Belgian international told the Valencia press.
"I believe Ros Casares are the favourites in the series, although certainly the way Bourges play on their own court means it is not going to be very easy for Ros.
"It's a court I know well and a place where it's very complicated to win".
After a fascinating first quarter-final match-up, it's hard to disagree with the assessment of Wauters.
It would seem that Pierre Vincent has some hugely interesting decisions to make in terms of how his team approach this second game - a challenge of course he will relish immensely.
For there is an argument which suggests his team were beaten at their own game on Tuesday.
Not only was it superior defence that characterised the win by Ros Casares but also their absolutely relentless strategy of pounding the ball inside.
These are two traits usually associated with Vincent and his Bourges team but Ros Casares fought fire with fire and came out on top.
Maybe it was a bold strategy by Natalia Hejkova but it certainly paid dividends.
Perhaps the biggest worry for Coach Vincent is that not only did his team fail to find their way to the hoop in their usual fashion, but Rebekkah Brunson had a rare off-night and they don't come along too often.
With Sonja Reis doing a great job stepping up, it's likely Brunson will be determined to make up for her below-par effort and a fired-up Brunson could spell trouble.
On the flip-side, Bourges fans will know their team didn't shoot the ball well at all in game one and from that point of view things can surely only get better.
Whether it be Ros Casares or Bourges who progress to Final Four, Wauters meanwhile claims her team-mates back in Russia still remain the favourites to finally lift the trophy this year.
"Although this season it's very difficult to make a prediction, UMMC Ekaterinburg have a great group of players and I believe that they're prepared to win the EuroLeague Women title."