| ||Dominique Faurie has covered women's basketball all over Europe and will write regularly for FIBAEurope.com during the EuroLeague season. |
On Sunday, EuroLeague Women 2009 will be over. The last four games should be great. What is the shape of the four teams?
That's what we tried to find out by looking at their last game. Happy times for the Russians, and hard time for the Spanish and Hungarian, both of whom were beaten at home.
Simple for Spartak in Russia
Beaten by Ekaterinburg in the Final of the Russian Cup 76-70, Spartak Moscow went on its way in the Russian League. Lazlo Ratgeber's squad beat Kursk, Semi-Finalist in EuroCup Women, 2-0 in the Quarter-Finals of the Russian League playoffs. Their 80-52 game two victory was spearheaded by Taurasi and Jackson (16 points in 25 minutes for each), while Karpunina saw the most time with 30:53 spent on the floor.
Ratgeber is a bit worried by an injury to Fowles, who didn't play in their last game, and his team has to be more efficient at three-points (5/23 against Kursk).
The 2007 and 2008 winners arrived on Monday in Madrid for a training camp, and will reach Salamanca on Thursday.
The big news given by Spartak General Manager Steve Costalas is that regardless of the outcome of the first game Sonja Petrovic will be dressed and on the bench Sunday.
"She has worked so hard to get back from her injury that she deserves to be part of this Final Four." said Costalas.
The FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year for 2007, Petrovic missed the whole season with a knee injury. She played in the 2008 Final Four with Bourges.
Spartak's final tune up:
Spartak 80 Kursk 52
Points: Karpunina 8, Kuin 9, Shchegoleva 10, Bird 10, Osipova 3, Taurasi 16, Jackson 16, Pavlova 0, Miller 7, Streimikyte 4.
Easy for Ekaterinburg
The "Foxes" easily qualified for the semi-final of the Russian championship, trashing Novosibirsk 2-0. The cup winners rolled 85-37 in game one and 84-65 in game two. French inside player Sandrine Gruda was the most efficient scorer, with 19 points, while Stepanova had a double-double of 11 points and as many rebounds.
Beaten last season in semi-final by Spartak, UMMC beat Bourges for the bronze medal. But they are more ambitious this season, with the arrival of Stepanova and Pondexter.
Last tune up for Ekaterinburg:
Ekaterinburg 84 Novosibirsk 65
Points: Nolan 4, Rakhmatulina 2, Vodopyanova 0, Leuchanka 4, Stepanova 11, Bibrzycka 17, Gruda 19, Pondexter 12, Jones 2, Abrosimova 13, Baranova DNP.
Salamanca not invincible at home
Everybody's frightened to play in Salamanca, in front of the, "most fantastic fans in Europe" as Pierre Vincent of Bourges put it. But it's possible to win there, and I know of at least three coaches who will be trying to get the video of Avenidas defeat at the hands of Irun in the Spanish league. A victory is always a precious thing when you are on the road to play Salamanca, but this was not just a win it was a drubbing, 95-76.
Salamanca made many mistakes, in spite of getting a good game from Anke De Mondt who netted 21 points thanks to her efficiency on three-pointers. Were Lisa Sanchez teammates thinking too much about the Final Four? Their defense will have to be much better to stop Sopron, who beat Bourges in the Quarter-Final Round with a great attack and a lot of enthusiasm. If Avenidas have been keeping an eye on Sopron, the Spanish will see that their opponents suffered in the paint in front of Ohlde and Vajda, so Snow, who had just four points against Irun will need to be better.
Last tune up for Salamanca:
Irun 95 Salamanca 76
Points: Silvia Domínguez 9, Sánchez 8, Willingham 13, Snow 4, Gunta Basko 6. Anke De Mont 21, Navarrete, Alaña 5, Stampalija 10, Mar Rovira.
Deception for Sopron in Hungarian Cup Final
Sopron fared a little better than Avenidas this Sunday, beaten at home by Pecs 61-57 in the Final of the Hungarian Cup. Sopron lost by four in the final quarter, which obviously made the difference.
Vajda and Ohlde were very efficient for Pecs, who were ironically eliminated by Salamanca in the Quarter-Final Round. Pecs managed to control Milovanovic, who had only three points.
Sopron wasn't good enough from three-point land to make a difference, going 2 of 14 for just 14%.
It was a different story in the cup semi-finals where Sopron easily beat Gyor 86-51, with 16 points from Milovanovic in just 19 minutes.
Last tune up for Sopron:
MiZo-Pécs 61 MKB Euroleasing 57
Points: Macleod 2, Honti 9, Holt 11, Milovanovic 3, Horti 14. Horváth 3, Krivacevic 10