|29 March 2012|
***Don't miss the clash of the two Russian giants, Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje and UMMC Ekaterinburg, on day three of the EuroLeague Women Final Eight. You can also watch the rest of the Friday games on FIBA Europe TV, under subscription***
No matter what the competition, location or circumstances, you can be guaranteed fireworks and intensity when Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje and UMMC Ekaterinburg go up against each other.
Even with a third game in three days in Istanbul, there is unlikely to be any let up and especially with Sparta&K head coach Pokey Chatman eager for her team to bounce back from their loss to Ros Casares.
"I think any game between ourselves and Ekaterinburg is great for the fans," explained the play-caller.
"I guess as coaches and players we know each other inside-out of course!
"But I think for us, this is more about our recovery and learning from the game against Ros Casares.
"There are many things I need by team to do better including rebounding the ball because we did a great job in the first-half against Ros with eight offensive rebounds then didn't do so well in the second half.
"We will learn from that game and we know it will be just as tough as usual against our rival."
SEASON SO FAR
• Sparta&K finished top of Group C with an 11-3 record and had to beat domestic rivals Nadezhda in Round 2 to punch their Final Eight ticket. Sparta&K won their opening game against Wisla Can Pack by 77-70 and then lost 77-66 to Ros Casares.
• Ekaterinburg finished third in Group A with a 10-4 record and eased past Good Angels Kosice during Round 2 to make it to Istanbul. After crashing 62-49 in their first game, Ekat recovered to record a hard fought 67-59 victory over Wisla on day two.
THE HOT HAND
• Becky Hammon has scored 16 points in both of her games so far and is 7 of 10 fromthree-point range for the tournament. Sonja Petrovic has also impressed with her all-round play and influence so far, stepping up in the absence of Serbian national team-mate Jelena Milovanovic.
• Deanna Nolan and Candace Parker both enjoyed strong games last time out against Wisla Can-Pack. The former had 19 points while the latter had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. During their last meeting in Russia a couple of weeks ago, Ekat came out on top 75-68 with Sandrine Gruda playing the starring role.
• The three-point shooting of Sparta&K has been the main feature across both games having shot more than 40% and this will be one of the main weapons for Ekat to try and nullify.
• Sparta&K are missing the experience of the injured Irina Osipova and seriously lack height right now. Consequently Ekat will look to expose this with their own frontcourt, which remains stacked.
Marina Kuzina has a huge role to play against her former team, in trying to match up with Maria Stepanova and Yelena Leuchanka, and she won't get much chance to rest with team-mate Candice Dupree likely to have her hands full with Candace Parker and Sandrine Gruda.