Faenza Face Uphill Challenge


The PalaBubani was packed with 1500 spectators while thousands of fans without tickets watched the game live on television either at home or in their local sports bar.

Inside the arena, the atmosphere was just right for a European cup final, the first ever in the history of Faenza, Italy’s oldest club.

Founded in 1945, Faenza had gone without a trophy for 62 years before winning the Italian cup just one month ago.

With the Italian cup taking pride of place in their new trophy cabinet, Faenza have the chance to add another piece of silverware to their burgeoning collection in the EuroCup Women final against Dynamo Moscow.

But after a 61-73 home loss in game one, Paolo Rossi’s side have it all to do in game two in Moscow on 11th April.

“I can't ask anything more to my players. Dynamo is a team that can compete at a high level in the EuroLeague. Unfortunately those spots are filled with Spartak and CSKA, and Dynamo has to play in our competition,” Rossi told reporters after the game.

“We missed some easy shots under the basket, and our percentage beyond-the-arc was very poor to let us to balance their superiority under the boards. Anyway, we did our job. And when you face a team like Dynamo it's obvious that you can do what they let you do,” added Rossi, who has won one EuroLeague Women title (1991 with Cesena) and two Ronchetti Cups (both with Parma in 1992 and 200) in a long and distinguished career in women’s basketball.

Dynamo were no doubt worried about the prospect of playing Faenza, who had disposed of two Russian clubs in the previous rounds of the EuroCup Women, Chevakata Vologda and Dynamo Moscow Region.

Simona Ballardini was the outstanding player in both of those series and Dynamo coach Ainars Zvirgzdins game plan was just right.

Zvirgzdins used Anete Jekabsone to play stifling one-on-one defense against Ballardini (she finished with 11 points on 3/13 shooting) while 1.94 m power forward Tatiana Shchegoleva played at the point. Despite her size, Russian national team player Shchegoleva has the skills to run the team and her presence allowed Dynamo to avoid Faenza’s full court press.

The return match in Moscow looks to be mission impossible for Faenza, a fact which has not escaped Rossi.

“At the jump ball every single game starts from a 0-0, but this time our game will start from 0-13. It's a pity, but we'll fight until the end.”

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