Russia: Volgaburmash 'Lucky' To Be In Final

24 March 2006
By Cindy Garcia-Bennett, PA Sport

"We were lucky."

That was the frank admission of Volgaburmash star Amaya Valdemoro after the defending EuroLeague Women champions rose from the dead to beat Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Cup this week.

One of the finest teams in the world, Volgaburmash looked like one of the worst in Russia at times during their semi-final against Dynamo Moscow but they fought back from a 26-point deficit to win 87-85 in overtime.

They will now take on UMMC Ekaterinburg in the final on Friday, but it will be hard to forget their fightback which has allowed the team to dream of winning four pieces of silver this season.

Maria Stepanova (VBM-SGAU Samara)
Maria Stepanova hit two crucial three-pointers to help Samara to victory.
Volgaburmash won the FIBA Women's World earlier this season and they are also in the EuroLeague Women Final Four and the Superleague play offs.

"We trailed by a maximum of 26 points and we knew that we had to improve because we weren't giving the image that we usually give," Valdemoro said to PA Sport.

"We were lucky because we netted several three pointers and we had some steals that allowed us to cut the difference to 18 going into the final quarter.

"We then took it one step at a time and fortunately for us, they had two important players foul out at a crucial time.

"(Maria) Stepanova stepped in and made important three-pointers to take the game to overtime and having gone that far, we knew the victory was ours."

Ekaterinburg, like Dynamo Moscow, competed in the EuroLeague Women this year and they will be keen to knock of the undisputed heavyweights of Russia.

"We are looking forward to today's final," Valdemoro said.

"We have beaten them already in the league but we are playing on their court and it's not going to be easy because they are a team that never gives up."

If Volgaburmash do win, they will be right in the right frame of mind for their big games coming up in Europe.

So far, the only side to beat Volgaburmash has been MiZo Pecs in the EuroLeague Women and Valdemoro knows the clash with Dynamo Moscow was a shot across the bows.

"We have only lost one game this year and we are optimistic going into a crucial stage of the campaign as we face next weekend Lietuvos Telekomas in the semi-final of the EuroLeague," Valdemoro said.

"It's great to be competing in all of the competitions. I always knew this team would maintain last season's standards. We aim to win every title available to us because this team was born to win.

"Last season, Samara already won two of the three titles, only losing the Russian Cup and we hope that this year we can win all of them."

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