|Olga Arteshina's all-around game will be sorely missed by Russia come June|
Reigning EuroBasket Women champions Russia have been left reeling after forward Olga Arteshina was ruled out of the tournament with an ACL injury.
The experienced 30 year old, who first burst onto the scene with the national team way back as a teenager at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, sustained the blow for club side UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian play-offs.
Known for her hard work, court smarts, delivering the intangibles and being the essential ‘glue player' for Russia, her loss has been described as a significant blow by Russian National Team head coach Alfredas Vainauskas.
Whilst Arteshina has had to play more of a role this season for UMMC due to their deep roster, her contributions for Russia over the years have been absolutely essential and she will be sorely missed.
However, her absence could open the door for a more youthful replacement, with Russia aware they are facing a need to usher in a new era of younger players.
UMMC General Manager Maxim Rybakov confirmed Arteshina will undergo surgery in Germany and faces a minimum of six months out of action.
Losing Arteshina overshadowed UMMC reaching the semi-finals of the Russian play-offs in comfortable fashion, as they swept aside Spartak Noginsk 94-41 with Deanna Nolan and Sandrine Gruda combing for 28 points. There was also more positive news as Candace Parker returned to action having previously turned her ankle.
Whilst Coach Vainauskas may have cursed his misfortune in losing Arteshina, he was at least able to enjoy taking Dynamo Kursk into the semi-finals after winning both games against Dynamo Moscow, the second a 76-69 win in the capital.
And, it was a potential Russia national team star Epiphanny Prince who stole the show. She finished with 28 points after a sensational master-class of three-point shooting, making six downtown scores from just eight attempts.
Sparta&K M.R.Vidnoje also breezed into the last four after claiming a comfortable 2-0 series win against Energia Ivanovo. The hosts won 96-43, with frontcourt trio Isabelle Yacoubou, Natalia Vieru and Marina Kuzina racking up 47 points between them.
Finally, the only quarter-final to reach a third and deciding game, was between Chevakata and Nadezhda. And, it was the latter who stormed through to the next round by completing an 88-58 blowout, with Dewanna Bonner claiming a double-double in points and rebounds.