|Click here to watch the Group A game UMMC Ekaterinburg vs. Ros Casares Valencia LIVE and for free on FIBA Europe TV, Wednesday at 14:00 CET|
By Paul Nilsen
Ros Casares playmaker Silvia Dominguez believes nothing short of perfection will do when her team goes up against UMMC Ekaterinburg in a star-studded Group A clash.
The Spanish club dodged a bullet during the first meeting between the teams when they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a rousing 21-4 final quarter as Ekat imploded offensively to eventually slide to a 60-52 loss.
However, according to Dominguez, completing a sensational double over their rivals is going to be supremely difficult and limiting the number of mistakes on the court is going to be the key to standing any chance of accomplishing that aim.
"I think this meeting between the two clubs is just like an All Star Game," the Spanish international said.
"It's incredible to look at the rosters of these two teams and it will be so hard for us to win in Russia, but I still think my team can do it.
"We have to improve in some of the smaller details because Ekat will not forgive us if we make too many mistakes.
"We should try to be perfect if we want to win this game.
"It's a good opportunity to show that we really want to do great things in EuroLeague Women during 2012," Dominguez admitted.
The game will see the hugely influential Ann Wauters return to her former club and as the only player to have started every game for Ros Casares this season, Dominguez took time out to praise her team-mate ahead of tip-off.
"I think that playing with Ann Wauters is a real pleasure," explained the guard.
"She provides an opportunity for me to keep improving as a player since she reads the game so well.
"She's like a point-guard playing in the forward position and everyone can learn many things from Ann both as a player and also as a person."
From an Ekat perspective, this is probably a game they had circled in the diary with an extra thick pen line, taking into account the way they collapsed so spectacularly during the latter stages of the first meeting.
It's been an up-and-down campaign for the Russian powerhouse personnel-wise with injuries causing some issues. At various times during the season they have lost some key players including Hana Horakova (now healthy again and on loan to Good Angels Kosice), Svetlana Abrosimova (finally on the comeback trail after last playing way back in November), Tatiana Vidmer (missed the last game) and Maria Stepanova (still sidelined and undergoing surgery).
Perhaps this is part of the reason why the club has swooped to bring back exciting young gun Tatiana Petrushina from Dynamo-GUVD in recent days. Having recently celebrated her 22nd birthday, Coach Paulauskas will be no doubt hoping she can help ease the load domestically as she has most definitely matured since she was last with Ekaterinburg a couple of years ago.
Addiitonally with Cappie Pondexter having departed for pastures new, there's a slightly different feel to the backcourt from the first contest in Valencia now that Sue Bird is pulling the strings and the defensive intensity of Sandra Linkeviciene has been added.Season So Far: UMMC Ekaterinburg sit in third place in Group A with a 9-3 record, After losing two of their first six games, they have only lost once during their last six which was a somewhat unexpected defeat at Bourges Basket. Domestically, they lie in second place behind arch rivals Sparta&K Moscow Region Vidnoje with an 11-1 record.
Ros Casares meanwhile is unbeaten in Liga Femenina and top of the standings while in EuroLeague Women, they are locked at the top of Group A with Galatasaray Medical Park . They have a 10-2 record with losses being picked up at home to ZVVZ USK Prague and in a real shocker on the road in Kaunas.
|"I think this meeting is just like an All Star Game," Ros Casares point guard Silvia Dominguez says of the EuroLeague Women Game of the Week |
THE HOT HANDS
Frontcourt combo Sandrine Gruda and Candace Parker have been the key performers for Ekat this season. Both have posted some big numbers with the former racking up a mammoth 30 points last week against ZVVZ USK Prague and the latter having averaged over 19 points across the course of the last three games.
As for Ros Casares, there's just no stopping Ann Wauters who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding with 15.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She has been a truly consistent factor all season long although her last game against Bourges was probably her worst offensive night so far. Frontcourt partner Sancho Lyttle has also been on form for most of the campaign and has the best shooting percentage on the roster while also leading Ros in steals and blocks.
Another evergreen veteran, Laia Palau, is really dishing up the goods for Ros and is the second in the competition for assists having managed a terrific 6.3 per game although she missed out last weeks game with injury.
THE 'X FACTORS'
I am guessing that for Ekat, this is the one game that will probably have really got under their skin so far this season and consequently they will be desperate to make up for throwing the win away in Valencia. It's tough to see this being a blowout or even a truly convincing win either way, even if there has been some strange results between the top clubs in Group A so far. Consequently, the fine detail will be important with these clubs the two best defensive units in terms of numbers, giving up the fewest points in the competition.
I think it will be the Ekat defence which could be the deciding factor and it needs to be water-tight. The likes of Bird, Linkeviciene (probably off the bench) and Olga Arteshina (who really is the underrated ‘glue' player for the hosts) will have to lock down what looks to be a potentially more potent scoring threat from the Ros wings. There is such quality and versatility in both camps that it's tough to know the match-ups for sure and I wonder with Lauren Jackson slowly coming into form whether it will be Arteshina who could be given what would be a tough and important assignment.
With such a stunning line-up of world class stars on display, every match-up all over the floor looks to be worth mentioning. However I am assuming that Sandrine Gruda and Sancho Lyttle will go up against each other in the forward spot and it will be both interesting to see who wins this key battle - whether it is the sweet shooting touch and extended range of Gruda or the athleticism and aggression of Lyttle. I suspect Gruda will also have fun in the paint when she is foraging for rebounds ahead of her French national team colleague Isabelle Yacoubou.
Ann Wauters needs to block one more shot to level up with Emmeline Ndongue in fifth place of the EuroLeague Women all-time most blocks list. Ndongue has blocked 112 total shots although she will also be looking to add to her total having recently returned from injury with Bourges Basket.
Meanwhile Wauters needs to block three more shots to level up with Irena Vizbariene in fourth place.
Deanna Nolan needs four more steals to reach 150 steals and become only the 29th player in EuroLeague Women history to make it to this landmark.
Last but not least, Jana Veselá needs seven more steals to reach 200 in EuroLeague Women and become the 17th player in tournament history to do so.