|02 September 2005|
Russia launched their EuroBasket title defence in grand style with a 92-60 thumping of Romania in Izmir.
Tatiana Shchegoleva led an impressive Russian attack with 20 points, while center Maria Stepanova was excellent as well with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Igor Grudin's team grabbed a stranglehold on the Group B game early. Olga Arteshina's three-pointer with six minutes to play in the first quarter gave Russia a 10-9 lead and also sparked a 17-3 run which ended with 2:00 left in the opening period.
Romania trailed 24-12 at that stage and never recovered.
There is no Elena Baranova, Russia's top player in recent campaigns, but they are deep and can throw waves of players at opponents as they did against the Romanians, who are longshots to advance from Group B.
All 12 members of the Russian squad played and scored, and 10 of those logged at least 11 minutes on court.
No explanation is needed for Russia as to why they insisted on Stepanova returning to Europe from the WNBA, where she was a key member of the Phoenix Mercury.
With the 2.02m Stepanova in the lane, they are an imposing team. Without her, teams will not be intimidated by Russia.
Svetlana Dragusin, a 35-year-old forward, led the Romanians with 16 points on seven of 11 shooting.
The only other player in double figures was center Gabriela Toma with 10 points.
On Saturday, Russia take on hosts Turkey while Romania face Spain.