|EuroLeague Women Final Eight tips off at Monday 9am cet|
One more sleep and the 2013 EuroLeague Women Final Eight will be tipping-off in Ekaterinburg with four games marking day one action.
Form Guide: Sparta&K have won six consecutive games, whilst Schio have lost four of their last six.
Breakdown: The defensive strategy of Schio will be the key. It's a tough assignment to slow down the well balanced inside-outside game of the Russians, but how effective Schio are at choking the most prolific team at the Final Eight will dictate their prospect of success - or some people might may say increase their chances of an upset. Schio rely heavily on Jantel Lavender and Danielle McCray for points production so it's essential the likes of Laura Macchi and Raffaella Masciadri contribute to dilute this worrying over-reliance.
Key Match Up: Center duo Isabelle Yacoubou and Lavender going up against each other under the basket should be fun with both powerhouses in the low post.
Stats Don't Lie: With 16.1 turnovers-per-game, Schio must look after the ball more effectively and since Sparta&K are the best three-point shooting team in the competition with 36.1%, get a hand in the face of the outside shooters.
Breakdown: Bourges have had horrific injury problems all season long, losing three hugely influential players in Frida Eldebrink, Cathy Joens and Styliani Kaltsidou. So, whether the likes of British wing Johannah Leedham can step in and help keep the scoreboard ticking over will be interesting. Fenerbahce have been a coin toss in tight games this season, winning three and losing three, so Bourges will know they have to dictate the tempo, keep it low scoring and will have a great chance if they remain in the game approaching crunch time.
Stats Don't Lie: Matovic and Verameyenka have managed a combined 61.4% field goal percentage from two-point range this season. Bourges give up less than 60 points-per-game and only Galatasaray can better that.
Form Guide: UMMC have lost just once during the entire season, but CCC Polkowice have won six of their last seven games.
Breakdown: Both teams met during the regular season with UMMC winning both contests, but Polkowice hung tough for long periods last time out in Russia, before eventually falling 66-57. It will be interesting to see what kind of defence the Polish side employ and it is likely to be the zone. Laia Palau is a big character and influence and she will be hugely important for the underdogs, especially if things get tough during the game. She must lead and if possible, make a few shots to go with her inevitably impressive assists haul.
Key Match Up: Rightly or wrongly, some people have already started comparing rookie Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Candace Parker. The duo should go up against each other for a third time this season in the forward spots, which will be fascinating.
Stats Don't Lie: Ekat were as cold as the ice and snow outside the gym when they hosted Polkowice on their own floor earlier in the season, making a pitiful two-of-21 from long-range. An uplift in that percentage would be useful for the home club, whilst CCC Polkowice shoot an overall 40.7% - the worst of any team at the tournament.
|Alexandria Quigley is expected to be a key factor for Good Angels Kosice on Monday|
Form Guide: Galatasaray have won four and lost two of their last six games, Good Angels Kosice have lost just once in the last nine games.
Breakdown: Kosice have been outstanding offensively but mediocre defensively during a fantastic season. They will arguably have to maintain their offensive production but step up their defensive efforts to progress and flirt with the podium. Galatasaray need to do almost the mirror opposite and pick up their offensive fluidity because, their defence has been their salvation - giving up as few as 56.1-points-per-game. Gala have had some major changes in their roster so are a bit of an unknown quantity and will certainly miss the presence of long-term injury victim Nevriye Yilmaz.
Key Match Up: Whichever Gala player is tasked with locking down the dangerous Allie Quigley will have a big say in the outcome, whilst Petra Kulichova needs to deal with the usually efficient and no-fuss Sylvia Fowles under the hoop.
Stats Don't Lie: To realise their ambition and better last years' efforts, Galatasaray are likely to need to improve dramatically upon two fundamental aspects of the game. They are the worst free-throw shooters at 66.8% and worst three-point shooters at 27.9% - but have the best defensive record by some distance.