|12 November 2013|
Despite opening the new EuroLeague Women season with a loss, Lisa Karcic is hoping Novi Zagreb can take confidence from a promising first night performance.
The Croatian club will have to be at their best when they entertain Turkish giants Galatasaray odeabank this week, but according to Karcic, the signs are positive.
|Zagreb's main weapon early in the season is Luca Ivankovic, who had a fine double-double against Prague|
"Our game in Prague showed some promise despite the loss," insisted the 27-year-old.
"We were down early so to fight back and make it a game showed a lot of heart.
"No one expected us to come close and we proved it will be a battle next time when they pay us a visit in Zagreb."
Karcic is eager to find another cause for celebration after enjoying a birthday earlier this week.
She acknowledges it will be a difficult task against their illustrious visitors, but believes a hard-nosed approach and pounding the ball inside could pay dividends.
She said, "Galatasaray are a great team, but so are we and in our home gym, we are tough competitors.
"We will focus on what we always need to do to win and that's to put the ball inside. When we have Luca Ivankovic and Lucila Pascua scoring and playing well, it gives us an advantage and opens up play for the rest of our team."
Karcic has played for the Croatian national team at EuroBasket Women but it wasn't until last week that she finally got Euroleague Women onto her resume and she is keen to capitalise on the experience.
"For me, I will go into every game with nothing but excitement and thankful for the opportunity to play in such a great league," she said.
"To finally make it and play EuroLeague Women is just the first step and I hope to fight hard this season, not only to make a name for myself, but for my team as well."
Form Guide: The Croatian side went down 57-52 in a hard fought opener on the road at ZVVZ USK Prague and domestically, the club are joint second with a 7-2 record in the Middle European League. The visitors won their first Euroleague Women game comfortably with an eye-catching 81-56 rout of Perfumerias Avenida and are co-leaders of the TKBL with an unbeaten six wins from six games.
The Hot Hands: After spending the whole of the 2012-13 Euroleague Women season on the sidelines, veteran Turkish standout Nevriye Yilmaz finally made her debut for Galatasaray last week in style with 23 points and 10 rebounds. She also helped forage for a narrow win at the weekend with another double-double helping to keep her team perfect in the Turkish League.
|10 assists on opening night meant a promising start for Isil Alben|
Similarly, Luca Ivankovic has shown why her summer move from arch rivals Jolly Sibenik was so important. The center had an impressive 21 points and 10 rebounds klast week in the Czech capital and has posted some nice numbers in the Middle European League. Her Croatian national team-mate Iva Ciglar also seems to be getting into her stride, showing more of a scoring touch to her game this season, along with her ever-reliable passing skills.
‘X Factors' & Match Ups: One big factor for the home side will be ensuring that they have at least two, but preferably three primary scorers in this game. Despite the heroics of Ivankovic last week, one of the reasons Zagreb came up short was that nobody else delivered offensively and even broke double digits in support. If the likes of Ivankovic, Ciglar and Milica Dabovic can have reasonable shooting nights, then they have a chance. The big issue will be coping with the defence of Galatasaray who are capable of choking any main sources of production. Ciglar against Isil Alben in the point guard spot looks an appealing match-up to follow, as does Ivankovic and the experienced Lucila Pascua going up against Yilmaz and Kelsey Bone under the hoop. The home duo will have to make sure they find the shooters on the perimeter as well as taking it hard to the hoop and hopefully for Zagreb fans, the likes of Karcic, Eva Komplet and Dabovic can knock a few down. Perhaps the most decisive factor will be what plans the hosts have for slowing down and guarding the ever present danger of Alba Torrens in the open floor.