|19 June 2013|
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
|Kathrin Ress did not immediately realise the significance of the late basket she hit in a losing effort against Russia|
By Paul Nilsen
It didn't even win her the team the game against Russia, but the thrilling last gasp score by Italian center Kathrin Ress could barely have had a bigger impact on the women's basketball world.
Whilst Ress and her team-mates were given a lifeline which was soon to be transformed into a complete and vigorous revival, her basket sent a giant shockwave around the globe.
The epicentre was in Moscow where the Russian women's national team and now the wider structure underpinning it, is being excessively critiqued.
Something which is the only way for many to deal with absorbing the gritty reality of no title, no medal, no FIBA 2014 World Championship for Women and having to go through EuroBasket Women 2015 qualifiers next summer.
Ress was also instrumental in the drama of the opening day 64-63 victory against Sweden when she accumulated 18 points and 14 rebounds for her team.
She admitted she hadn't fully appreciated what her basket against Russia had meant at the time - or for a relieved Italy, who now play in the second round in Lille.
"I don't think I knew whether to be happy or not because we had lost the game," she recalled.
"Everybody is now saying that we should have taken a three, but I think we might not have scored this option and the odds show the basket was good enough for us - even if we did need Spain to beat Sweden.
"Two points were better, but I admit at the time, I didn't really think like this."
Playing with the capacity to lose and yet still advance, can be a tricky scenario to deal with mentally for players and Ress claimed they did try to go for the victory against the Russians.
She mused, "We probably should have really gone even harder for the win because that was honestly our main goal, but we know Russia is a powerhouse.
"They actually played quite well and I admit we were probably a little lucky, but maybe deserved it for being a brave young team."
Of course Ress is one of just three experienced players for the Azzurre who actually have nine players making their Final Round debuts - something which makes progressing to the second phase even more of a joy.
"I was so happy and proud of the young guys because I got into foul trouble early against Russia and Alessandra Formica really stepped up," she said.
"Alessandra was really strong. Much stronger than normal and she really came up big by managing to hold down the post position for us.
"Having these younger players coming up like Alessandra and Francesca [Dotto] is really great for Italian basketball and I think with them, everyone can think positively about the future of this team."
Italy will now face Turkey, Montenegro and Slovak Republic in Group E.