Day 3: Final Eight Temperature Check

09 April 2014
6. Laia Palau (ZVVZ USK Prague)
 Laia Palau and ZVVZ USK Prague can go home proud, depsite their early exit's women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen checks out what was hot during the third day of action at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.


Monday, Tuesday, ‘Gutsday'

Guts and heart were the overpowering theme for Tango Bourges, Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje and ZVVZ USK Prague who all showed outstanding mental fortitude.

Firstly Bourges for shrugging off their day two mauling by UMMC and loss of Johannah Leedham to get the nine-point win they needed. Sparta&K for taking Fenerbahce down to the wire and lastly Prague, for playing so hard when stripped of their prize assets.

In the case of the Czech club, Katerina Elhotova spoke of leaving the competition with honour and Natalia Hejkova spoke of her immense pride. Upon leaving the post-game media conference, their departure was accompanied by a spontaneous burst of applause from the journalists - something Sparta&K also deserved by the way.


Steals and Conditioning

Angel McCoughtry came up with a game-winning steal against Sparta&K in the last few seconds and that was yet another for the competition steals leader. The small forward is still way out in front of everyone else and it was interesting that both play-caller Roberto Iniguez and the player herself, handed much of the credit to the Fenerbahce conditioning coach.


The Learning Curve

Sparta&Ks Nika Baric takes advice from head coach Alexander Vasin
Nika Baric will become a better player from her experiences in Ekaterinburg

On day two I hailed the impact of young Sparta&K guard Nika Baric and the need for her to possibly be a little more selfish. This was maybe highlighted when she turned down a potential game-winning shot against Fenerbahce right at the death. The reason this is on my list is because while at the time it may have been a really difficult moment for her, you know she will be an even better player for the experience.


Third Time Lucky For Tolo

Australian center, Marianna Tolo was really looking forward to the tournament after an excellent regular season with Bourges. But, her first day in Ekaterinburg was spent in bed trying to shake off illness, then she went zero-of-three on her Final Eight debut against Prague. The next day, as if things couldn't get any worse, she went zero-of-nine in the capitulation against UMMC. I tweeted about Tolo probably being the key to winning against Nadezhda and was delighted the amiable Aussie showed that to be the case. She found her feet with a more characteristic near double-double of 13 points and nine rebounds.


The Taurasi Mindset

There was one other particularly great moment on the third day and that was seeing the quite beautifully shot three minute FIBA Europe youtube clip (see below) entitled ‘The Taurasi Mindset'. It's definitely one of the best I have seen on women's basketball.

You can follow Paul @basketmedia365 for women's basketball tweets.




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