Spartak Too Strong For Valencia


Spartak Moscow Region collected the second major European silverware of their history on their homecourt, defeating Ros Casares Valencia in the EuroLeague Women Final Four.

Playing in front of a packed house of 4,000 home supporters, the 2006 EuroCup Women champions did not disappoint on their way to a 76-62 win.

US imports Diana Taurasi and Tina Thompson were instrumental in a dominant first half Spartak display. They scored 11 points apiece as Spartak ran up a 38-26 scoreline at the half.

Diana Taurasi and Agnieszka Bibrzycka (Spartak Moscow Region)
Diana Taurasi and Agnieszka Bibrzycka both came up with big baskets for Spartak Moscow.
In fact Spartak impressed throughout shooting the ball, making just under 50% of their field goal attempts. More importantly, they always found nothing but net whenever Valencia threatened.

"We have many shooters, Tina Thompson, Diana Taurasi, Agnieszka Bibrzycka, everybody is dangerous so it is not easy to play against us," said Spartak head coach Natalia Hejkova.

"And if we play defense like this, we are the best in Europe in this moment," she added.

The Spanish side struggled in the first half against the Spartak defense and made just 9-of-28 field goal attempts. Their problems were compounded when star forward DeLisha Milton-Jones, the EuroLeague’s top scorer entering Final Four play, picked up three first half fouls.

Although they were written off as underdogs before the contest, Valencia regrouped after the break and showed they were not just there to make up the numbers.

They outscored Spartak 16-5 in the first seven minutes of the third quarter to get within just one point, 43-42.

But Spartak’s reply was clinical and an 11-2 run saw them regain control 54-44 after 30 minutes.

Valencia had it all to do in the final ten minutes and briefly threatened a rally when they closed to six points, 56-50.

An Agnieszka Bibrzycka three-pointer, however, and another bucket from Thompson were enough to put an end to any threat as Spartak once again stretched to a double-digit lead.

"They fought so hard, we knew today would be tough," said Thompson.

Winner of the EuroLeague Women 2007: Spartak Moscow Region
Winner of the EuroLeague Women 2007: Spartak Moscow Region
"They played really hard, Delisha is awesome. What can you say about Diana Tauraisi, she is amazing. She hit some big shots for us down the stretch."

Valencia’s final blow came when Milton, who tried to carry her team to victory with 21 points and 11 rebounds, fouled out.

Despite the loss, Milton was proud of her team's efforts.

"Spartak they have a team full of all stars, many weapons. You can't really help because someone is open and nine times out of ten they make their shot," she said.

"I have to commend my team who left their hearts out on the floor. All the odds were against us, nobody expected us to be here but we came with a lot off of heart and professionalism. We came in second place but we will take that."

Thompson, who was selected Final Four MVP, ended the game with 24 points and eight rebounds while Taurasi was almost as impressive with 20 points.

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