BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Kia Vaughn was the driving force in CB Taranto's convincing game five win|
After five grueling play-off semi-final games for both Cras Basket Taranto and Beretta-Famila Schio, Italian basketball fans have before them what most expected.
EuroLeague Women outfits Taranto and Schio will square off for the Italian title.
On Sunday, Taranto hammered Basket Le Mura Lucca 67-47 and Schio blew away Pool Comense, 71-52.
"It's been tough, but we're happy to have prevailed in this semi-final," Taranto coach Roberto Ricchini said.
"The 3-2 win is the result of team work and application.
"The 3-2 triumph is a hard result I have gotten in the play-offs as a favorite.
"Lucca gave us a lot of problems, but we solved them with the brain and technique, using every weapon at our disposal."
Kia Vaughn shone with 21 points for Taranto while Simona Ballardini was the only other player to crack double figures in a balanced team effort.
By storming out to a 37-22 lead at half-time, Ricchini was able to give a breather to some of his charges in the second half.
Laura Macchi, meanwhile, was the star for Schio in their victory over Comense.
The Italy international had 16 points.
She seems to be playing her best basketball at the right time of the campaign.
"It's normal to have ups and downs during a season," she said.
"Fortunately, basketball is a team sport.
"It's not tennis and an individual sport, so the strength of the team eventually comes out."
Schio, who played at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight, were not always convincing in the regular seasons in Italy and Europe.
But Macchi said: "The play-offs are the play-offs and they're different from the regular season.
"It's the results that count. We're just thinking about the final."
Macchi bristled when asked about some of the team's struggles.
"We've never hidden the fact that we wanted to reach this final," Macchi said.
"I'm saddened that sometimes the values of this team are questioned.
|Laura Macchi was again there when it mattered most for Schio|
"Our will has always been there to reach this final. I'm very happy.
"Now we will rest and we'll be charged up and ready."
The title series will tip off on Wednesday and there won't be any secret weapons for Taranto and Schio.
The former beat the latter in the Coppa Italia Women when the competition was held in Schio.
"We know the opponents," Ricchini said, "and they know us.
"We must give our all and I can say that our desire to win is endless."
The supporters for both clubs are going to play an important role in the finals, which get underway on Wednesday.
"The fans have never, not for one centimeter, stopped supporting us," Macchi said.
"This is exactly what we'll need come the finals.
"They've helped get us up in times of adversity."