|Candace Parker showed her star quality for UMMC Ekaterinburg with 16 points and 20 rebounds|
A majestic contribution from EuroLeague Women Final Eight MVP Candace Parker helped UMMC dodge a bullet and squeeze out a 57-52 win against Tango Bourges.
A repeat of the semi-final from last season, things were a lot tighter this time as Parker recorded a stellar double-double of 16 points and 20 rebounds.
A late surge based on defence and the return of Diana Taurasi also paved the way for the champions to dig themselves out of a hole.
UMMC scored 11 of the last 13 points of the game and Taurasi added a valuable 15 points to secure a nervy but valuable success.
The hosts struggled all night from the free-throw line and from downtown which almost cost them dearly as the visitors, without the inside presence of Australian national team center Marianna Tolo, threatened to cause a major shock.
Bourges edged the first period 18-15, after some good work by young Romane Bernies and despite trailing 31-27 at the interval, posted a blistering 14-4 start to the second half and eventually went 43-35 ahead.
But, the French side dried up and UMMC turned the screw with a rare three-pointer from the hand of Taurasi levelling matters at 52 to set up a gripping finale, which the Russian club took full advantage of.
Endene Miyem was outstanding for Bourges with 15 points and nine rebounds, but agonisingly could not prevent her team sliding to an 0-2 start to the new season.
Tango Bourges Head Coach Valerie Garnier
"It was a good game in spite of the fact that we didn't win it. I am proud of what we were capable of doing. It is always really hard to come to Ekaterinburg and win here although with three minutes to play it seemed to be highly possible. It would be great to have a 10-point score advantage in order to win, but we were making mistakes and suffering losses in the first half and as a result made it impossible to come and win."
Tango Bourges player Celine Dumerc
"I am also proud of what we did. We missed three minutes to figure out the way to outplay UMMC. Still it is always hard to play against this team and Diana Taurasi. Now I am already thinking about our next game and consider this one to be a kind of bonus to prepare for the other upcoming meetings."
UMMC player Sandrine Gruda
"This game was not easy for us for sure. They showed us all kinds of stuff that we must work on and we have a lot of work to do. I would like to give them a credit because they are a good team. I didn't really feel that we might lose tonight. We just need to wake up and get into a hard fight."
UMMC Head Coach Olaf Lange
"The most important thing is that we found a way to win and I consider it to be a trait of a champion. Tonight a lot of things came together. On one hand we faced a well-coached and disciplined team that forced us to move the ball. We made mistakes and missed penalty shots. Our defence was below average and as a result they scored. This put additional pressure on our offence. Bourges is the kind of team that makes a low-scoring game and if you don't have the possibility to shoot, the outcome is made up in the rebound battle. In the end we found a solution in defence and were able to disrupt their rhythm and let Taurasi and Parker make some great shots."