|After five consecutive third-place-finishes, UMMC finally won their second EuroLeague Women title|
When UMMC Ekaterinburg team captain Maria Stepanova lifted the EuroLeague Women trophy on Sunday night, the relief was perceptible in DIVS arena - among the 5,000 fans, the players, coaches and management of the club.
Hosts Ekaterinburg remained undefeated during the Final Eight, capping off their campaign with an 82-56 victory in the title game against Fenerbahce.
The success ended a 10-year-drought for the Russian powerhouse, with the only previous EuroLeague Women crown dating back to 2003.
Russian sports news website sports.ru reviewed the road to the title, mentioning UMMC's convincing victories against Polkowice, Kosice, Galatasaray and Bourges, before analysing the final triumph against Fenerbahce.
Stepanova echoed that UMMC were the strongest team at the Final Eight.
"Our team includes the best basketball players of America, France, Spain, Poland and Latvia. We have a team full of ‘MVPs'," she said after the game.
The star-laden team is known for their offensive skills, but impressed at the Final Eight with their team defence.
On the way to the final, the hosts locked down their rivals, with no opponent being able to score more than 45 points. Fenerbahce broke that barrier with 56 points, but came nowhere close to their previous season output of 78.4 points per game.
It came as no surprise that sports news portal rsport.ru picked their headline upon the defensive performance of the home team, quoting head coach Olaf Lange.
"I am proud of our team defence," said the German coach, adding: "It's no secret that our team is renowned for the attack, we have many offensive players, but we are working hard on defence - and the result is obvious. I am proud that our team was able to become a unit."
|Silvia Dominguez has collected three EuroLeague Women titles in the last three years - each one with a different club|
Spanish newspaper El País as well took a closer look at the Final Eight champions, focusing on Spanish international Silvia Dominguez with the headline "El inverosímil triplete de Silvia" (The unlikely triplet of Silvia).
The point guard achieved the feat of winning three consecutive championships with three different clubs: Halcon Avenida, Ros Casares and UMMC Ekaterinburg.
"It's very special. I am thrilled. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, in ambitious clubs with the biggest goals," the 1.66m playmaker is quoted.
Dominguez also provided the recipe for her team's success, claiming that head coach Lange found a role for each of his 13 star players.
Additionally, the players didn't have to worry about anything in Ekaterinburg, except for playing basketball.
"The structure is very professional. It is a treat how they treat us. They do everything to make you feel comfortable," Dominguez told the paper.
Her own determination has brought her respect and praise from numerous sources, including Fenerbahce head coach Roberto Iniguez.
The Spanish play caller knows Dominguez well, having been at the helm of Ros Casares last season, guiding the team to the EuroLeague Women crown.
Iniguez (@Robertoih5) tweeted on Monday: "Wholehearted congratulations to Silvia Dominguez (@sdominguez6) for another European title. Example of work, principles and improvement."
Although Fenerbahce missed out on a historic win, Iniguez was proud of his players and assured that they will rebound: "I know these players. They will work for getting back strongly. SURE. No doubts."
Meanwhile, French media kept an eye on the fairy-tale-run of Bourges Basket.
The injury-plagued team sprung a surprise in Ekaterinburg, reaching the semi-finals and eventually clinching third place with a 65-57 triumph against Good Angels Kosice.
Bourges made the front page of France's biggest sports newspaper L'Equipe on Friday, with the headline reading "Quel exploit!" (What a feat!) and the author stating Bourges did the unthinkable by advancing to the last four.
L'Equipe followed the success up with an article online after the third-place game, underlining the importance of Celine Dumerc and claiming that a fourth EuroLeague Women title is not out of reach after all.