ESB Lille Metropole All Smiles After Crucial Win

24.01.2008

The celebrating hasn't stopped, yet.

ESB Lille clinched their progression to the eighth-finals of the EuroLeague Women with a heart-stopping 60-59 win at home over Fenerbahce only on Wednesday evening.

The coach of the French outfit, Abdou N'Diaye, simply can't stop smiling.

Celine Dumerc (Bourges Basket)
Celine Dumerc and Bourges will join Lille in the next round.
"You have to believe in order to progress to the next round," N'Diaye said.

"I always said it, you have to get used to defeats. The only way to learn in the EuroLeague is to suffer."

Imagine how that self-belief must have wavered, though, for Lille, a team that had claimed just two victories before last week's nail-biting 82-79 overtime triumph against Phard Napoli.

This Lille team looked to have little chance of reaching the next stage. They had to beat Fener, and hope that Phard Napoli upset TTT Riga, which they did.

Fenerbahce are also one of the best teams in Europe with one of the best players in USA international point guard Cappie Pondexter.

Yet Lille managed to beat them as Kathy Wambe drove in for a game-winning lay-up at the death.

The reward is a best-of-three series against UMMC Ekaterinburg.

"It's magnificent what my girls have been doing lately," N'Diaye said.

"I don't know if many people realize it, but it's exceptional."

Phard Napoli know they have made new friends in France but are nevertheless sad to leave the competition.

Phard Napoli coach Nino Molino said: "Of course, it's a bit disappointing knowing that you have played against all rivals at the same level but we haven't collected as much as we deserved. We wanted to finish the EuroLeague Women with a good game."

ESB Lille Metropole were not the only French side partying on Wednesday.

Bourges also defeated Wisla Can-Pack Krakow 60-51 to seal second place in Group B.

Celine Dumerc, the France international guard, did not score for Bourges on the night but she played well in other areas.

"This is a big satisfaction to finish second place in the group," she said. "We had a wonderful comeback after our difficult start to the competition. We didn't play a great game against Wisla, but the important thing was to win and we succeeded."

That second-place finish means that Bourges have home court advantage in their eighth-finals series against MKB Euroleasing, while Wisla face the unenviable task of taking on Fenerbahce.

The Turkish team will host the first and, if necessary, third games of that tie.


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