| ||Jeff Taylor has been covering European basketball since 1997, when he first worked on the television program SLAM. He has been a basketball writer and broadcaster since that time, traveling the continent and covering the game in depth for FIBA Europe since its launch in 2003. |
There was a lot for USO Mondeville fans to like about the first leg of their Eighth-Finals clash with Botas last week in the EuroCup Women.
Coach Hervé Coudray watched his players show lot of grit and determination to climb out of a 14-point hole in the second quarter before posting a 69-58 win.
The 22-year-old Mali center of Mondeville, Naignouma Coulibaly, had a jaw-dropping 19 rebounds to go with her eight points.New signing Katerina Zohnová, a Czech Republic international, poured in 15 points on her EuroCup Women debut with Mondeville.
| Point guard Ingrid Tanqueray struggled throughout the game but erupted for 10 points in the finale minute of the game|
She was six of 10 from the floor, including one of two from the great beyond.
There was also Ingrid Tanqueray hitting Botas with a late scoring spree at the end.
Having struggled for the entire game, the 23-year-old Tanqueray hit a jumper to stretch the lead to 63-58 with 45 seconds to go and followed that with back-to-back three-balls for the 11-point win.
Coudray had something to say about each to Basketball World News.
On Coulibaly, who is playing in her first season in Europe?
Coudray, the Mali coach the past couple of summers, said: "She is very athletic.
"It's not a problem of the physical quality, but when you come from Africa, you play against American players, you need to learn a lot about how to adjust to the double-teams, or when there is a very aggressive defense.
"You have to learn a lot, but she is so athletic that no one can stop her for her athletic quality.
"For now, her job is to become better as a (tactical) player, not just a physical player."
On Coulibaly's performance against Botas?
"She did a very good job in the second half, was very intense for all rebounds and forced (Courtney) Paris to become tired and commit some fouls," Coudray said.
On Zohnová, who replaced the injured Lithuania international Egle Sulciute during the Christmas break?
"I have a great feeling with this player," Coudray said.
"We recruited her because of Egle Sulciute's injury. We needed someone who could shoot well from outside, who could take the three, the jump shots, because we have many players who can drive well, rebound. But especially against the zone, we need someone who can be dangerous from outside.
"She did exactly what we want, and what we need. This player has a lot of experience because she played with (Wisla Can-Pack) Krakow, she played with the Czech Republic and she knew what her job was with us. Everyone in the team gave her confidence and helped her score with the best percentage.
On Ingrid Tanqueray?
"She had a bad game, but she was very important for the last two minutes and scored eight points in the last minute with three shots.
"This player just learned to play basketball in our club when she was a junior player. It was good to have a player who comes from our area in the country and can play professionally in the club. It's good for the fans to show that we can work well with the young players. We're giving her a chance, giving her confidence, and that's very important for the future."
Coudray has been a basketball coach for a long time so he knows an 11-point lead, while important, is not decisive.
Mondeville must play like the score is 0-0 when they play in Turkey to give themselves a chance of progressing.
"We have a young team, but you know from the beginning of the season in the French league and the European Cup that we have learned a lot," Coudray said.
"If you could see all the games we have played, we haven't allowed the other team to score a lot.
"Botas scored under 60 points. If we can let Botas score 55 to 60 points, it's there. We can hope to go to the next round.
"If they score 80 points, we are sure we can't go to the next round.
"We know the key to the second game will be the defense.
"Our best quality is the defense. If we can stop the Botas offense, we'll have a chance.
"But for sure with the fans, for sure Botas will be at home and it will be very difficult."