Gambrinus Brno and BC Volgaburmash Samara are both seeking revenge in their own way following losses last year as the two teams are set to battle for the EuroLeague Women championship later today in Brno.
Gambrinus suffered a heart-breaking defeat at the hands of Samara in last year´s EuroLeague Women finals.
Leading by as many as 10 in the second half in Samara, Gambrinus eventually fell as Maria Stepanova led Samara to a comeback victory.
|Ann Wauters scored 19 points in Samara´s semi-final win|
“Last year was a terrible turn of events,” said Gambrinus first year player DeLisha Milton.
“It left a bitter taste in their mouths, but I'm sure now we´ll be focused and ready to play them again.”
“We want to get back what we lost last year,” added Gambrinus guard Zuzana Zirkova.
In some ways, Samara could be seen as the team seeking revenge.
In EuroBasket 2005, many of Samara´s Russian players lost to the Czech Republic, which consisted of a large contingent of Gambrinus´ roster.
“Maybe it can help the Russian players more because if you lose the last game, it makes you want to win the next one even more,” said Gambrinus assistant coach Milan Veverka.
Gambrinus floor general Hana Machova sees game as a match-up of two evenly matched teams.
“Last year Samara had luck on their side,” she said.
“In EuroBasket, we were lucky. They know us and we know them. That´s the way the game is.”
“These are two great teams and both want to win,” said Ann Wauters, who posted team-highs in scoring and rebounding with 19 and 14 respectively in her Samara´s 65-63 win over Lietuvos on Friday night.
In this year´s final, Gambrinus will have the support of its home crowd, although not all feel this is an advantage.
“Last year was not easy for us because we had pressure playing at home,” said Samara coach Igor Grudin.
“This year, the pressure will be on Gambrinus. I think there will be less pressure on
|Brno will need a strong defensive effort to beat Samara|
One major difference from last year´s Gambrinus squad comes from the center position.
American Taj McWilliams patrolled the middle for Gambrinus in 2005 and claimed Final Four MVP honours even in a losing effort.
McWilliams is no longer with the team, but Milton has come to Brno and led the team in scoring from the number four position.
She posted a team-high 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and collected three steals in Gambrinus´ 61-54 semi-final win over USVO.
Milton will have her work cut out for her in going up against Wauters.
“We have to play good defense on Milton,” said Samara´s Ilona Korstin.
Added Wauters: “She is an aggressive player and we need to control her, but we really need to focus on team defense.”
Both teams are big and strong and rely a great deal on their inside players to carry them.
All the background and history between the two teams has the makings of a perfect championship game setting.
Said Eva Viteckova: “It´s going to be a battle.”