Final Preview: UMMC vs. Fenerbahce

23.03.2013

EUROLEAGUE WOMEN

13. Candace Parker (UMMC Ekaterinburg)
Candace Parker has been in great shape and will be tough for Bourges to guard

By Paul Nilsen

Simply being able to step out in the title game at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight is the first of a two-part mission accomplished for hosts UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Following five consecutive third place finishes and a ten-year absence from the showpiece game, UMMC finally made it back into the top two, with their nervy start against Bourges perhaps highlighting the weight of that history.

"We had to fight the semi-final demons of the club and at times the players were very tight," admitted head coach Olaf Lange.

"Overall, I thought we played very hesitant against Bourges in the first half and had some defensive mistakes that we hadn't shown all week.

"We spoke about the situation at half-time and I thought we came out and played the way we actually wanted to play.

"For me, the most crucial time of the semi-final was the first loose ball that Sandrine Gruda got in the second half and that showed me everything was going to be alright.

"Our defence carried us once again."

"I do think we now have that semi-final monkey off our backs and we will be ready for this Final."

His rival Roberto Iniguez, headed into last years' Final as the favourite because of his star-laden Ros Casares roster. This time however, the shoe is on the other foot with Fenerbahce very much cast in the role of the underdog.

"I think we have to be happy to have made the Final, because Fenerbahce has not spent the same level of money as some of the other clubs.

"I believe we are in the Final because my players have shown real heart and played with emotion.

"I admit that before the end of the semi-final against Kosice my mind began to already think about the Final and what it would mean to win against Ekaterinburg, but I had to tell myself to stop.

"They are an incredible and amazing team and so I can only guarantee everybody one thing - my players will fight," continued Iniguez.

"We are playing with good tempo and good defence.

"I know I did not rotate very much in the semi-final, but this was because as a coach, sometimes you look at your players on the floor and you know that they will go and win the game for you.

"Perhaps for Sunday, we have to look at other options and use more of our players."

22. Ewelina Kobryn (UMMC Ekaterinburg)
Ewelina Kobryn will sadly miss the final with an injured ankle

Breakdown: Fenerbahce are good team but have a much tighter rotation and perhaps their success will be measured by just how much Coach Iniguez trusts his back-up players and how far down the bench he is willing to go. UMMC has more depth and can find the energy, intensity and pressure needed for a full forty minutes which will be even more important at the climax of any tournament. Fenerbahce have a solid starting line-up, but it's tough to see who is going to guard Candace Parker as they lack the same kind of athleticism or quickness inside to match here. Anete Jekabsone is in good shooting form for UMMC and this must be matched off the bench for Fenerbahce bench by Agnieszka Bibrzycka. A good start to the Final is also essential for Fenerbahce, since firstly it might dilute the impact of a 5,000-strong partizan crowd and despite showing they can come from behind this week, this may be a different matter in the final. Ewelina Kobryn will sadly miss the game due to turning her ankle against Bourges so there may be expanded roles for Quanitra Hollingsworth and Maria Stepanova.

Key Match Up: It will be interesting to see if Lange continues with a three guard line-up by starting with Silvia Dominguez and Deanna Nolan, which essentially pushes Diana Taurasi into the three spot and having to guard Angel McCoughtry - and that could be a whole lot of fun. Fireworks could be a distinct possibility.

Stats Don't Lie: UMMC Ektaerinburg have not given up more than 45 points on their own court in five games. Not just the four played during the EuroLeague Women Final Eight, but they also held Galatasaray to 45 points in the final game of the regular season too. This summarises the size of the task offensively for Fenerbahce.

 


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