***Live broadcast on FIBA Europe TV starts Wednesday at 19.30 CET ***
EuroLeague Women Eighth-Final Play-Offs Game 3 Preview: Bourges Basket vs Good Angels Kosice
|Catherine Joens was Bourges's leading scorer in both games against Kosice and has scored 17 points or more in her last five EuroLeague Women games|
By Paul Nilsen
Maja Miljkovic has backed Bourges supporters to create another special atmosphere to help overcome Good Angels Kosice and reach the last eight of EuroLeague Women.
The visitors from the Slovak Republic have quite a task on their hands if they want to reach the EuroLeague Women Quarter-Final Play-Offs. Just look at the Bourges home record so far this season or ask Kosice Head Coach Stefan Svitek.
After his team were downed 76-68 in game one of the Eighth-Finals in France, Svitek came out with a classic truism when he said "It's hard to win in Bourges."
Even having had the confidence of winning at home to punch their ticket for a game three decider, it won't make it much easier for Good Angels to get the job done and do what no other team this season has managed - come away with a victory.
Much of that is down to the intensity created by 3,000 home fans who will be pushing their voices to the limit in order to help their team reach the quarter-finals according to Miljkovic.
"We will be playing on our court and I am sure our fans are going to make sure it is another great atmosphere and this will help us to finish this series as winners."
"Both games we have played were very close and we know that Good Angels Kosice have a good and aggressive team based on strong inside game."
"However, we will be more concentrated than ever on our own game and focusing on all of those things we have to do better to win."
With so much going on in other groups, Pierre Vincent and his Bourges team have quietly powered their way to the verge of the quarter-finals and remained largely off the radar so far - although as Miljkovic points out, there will be absolutely nothing quiet about this decider.
There is however a worthy note of caution for the hosts and that is simply that Good Angels Kosice are a capable team who particularly in any one-off game (which this now is) can come out on top and spoil the party.
It would be kind of ironic if the only game Bourges lose at home all season is the most important. With that in mind, it promises to be an absolutely pulsating and potentially bruising encounter and definitely not one for the faint hearted.
|Good Angels reinforced their frontcourt with Crystal Langhorne, but lost the outside threat of Zirkova or Houston|
Qualifying Round - Bourges Basket finished second in Group D with a 7-3 record. Good Angels Kosice finished third in Group A with five wins and five losses.
Previous Match Ups - Game one finished 76-68 to hosts Bourges who finished strongly and produced a blistering 24-10 last quarter to see off the visitors. Good Angels Kosice won game two 61-54 and left it even later, by finishing with an 8-3 run after it had been a one shot game with just 90 seconds remaining.
Current Form - The win last time out for the visitors stopped the rot of a worrying three game losing streak in EuroLeague Women while the result resigned the hosts to their first defeat in four games. Outside of European competition, Kosice have been their usual dominant self with 15 wins and no defeats back home in Slovak Republic and in fact between them, the teams have only one solitary loss in 31 domestic games. Bourges are currently top of the French League with a 15-1 record.
The Hot Hands - While she was a little quieter last time out, Langhorne enjoyed a stellar debut last time she was in France for game one when she ended up with 22 points and 6 rebounds. Dupree is also ready to help Kosice to the last eight as she came up with a double-double of 13 points and 13 boards in game two. For Bourges meanwhile, Cathy Joens has caught fire in a big way. She has scored 17 points or more for 5 consecutive games now.
What They Say - Good Angels Kosice forward Crystal Langhorne: "Bourges are a talented team that plays great defence and consequently it will be tough to go to their home court and take game three. Nevertheless, I think we are confident and we know them as a team. We will be ready for the game. Our coach has prepared us for this match and we want to advance to the next round."
X Factors - When it comes down to it, games of this magnitude in an intense arena with plenty on the line, demand cool heads. Consequently composure will be key and while an obvious point, it remains relevant - execution down the stretch will be vital.
Both teams are relatively well matched but home court advantage has been a big factor for Bourges. With that comes expectation which can occasionally get the better of the team. As for the visitors, making sure they are in the game with a couple of minutes to go will be good enough and ideally, trying to quell the crowd with a confident and positive start.
In terms of match-ups, Kosice no longer have the outside threat of Zirkova or Houston but have bulked up their inside game with Langhorne which is no bad thing as proven during the first game. It will be interesting to see if Kosice make any special plans for Joens who, if locked down successfully, could cause a problem for Bourges and demand someone else steps up offensively.
In every game Bourges play, their aggressive approach and defence will always be vital and perhaps that lack of three-point range for Kosice could be vital. For while they can stand and trade blows in the paint, is there someone to stroke a couple of daggers from the arc like Joens?
Did You Know? - Good Angels Kosice replaced Charde Houston even though she remains the deadliest three-point shooter in EuroLeague Women this season