By Paul Nilsen
Municipal Targoviste (3-8) are potentially a mere forty minutes away from realising their EuroLeague Women play-off dreams, although they will have to do it the hard way by toppling Group B leaders Good Angels Kosice (9-2).
A win will put Targoviste one game clear of UE Sopron (3-9), who already have completed their 12 games, but hold the tie-breaker over the Romanians.
With Sopron also coming out on top of a - still possible - three-team-tie with Targoviste and Arras, a loss will in any case mean elimination for Targoviste.
Kosice have already secured first place in the group but need a win to secure one of the top three spots in the ranking that is going to determine the play-off pairings.
First place in this ranking is still within reach for Kosice, if both Sparta&K and Galatasaray lose their last group games.
It's been an incredibly eventful season back at the elite level for the Romanian club, and whilst they have lots of work to do to reach the post-season, they would probably have settled for this scenario back at the start of the campaign.
Of course there's been a considerable volume of water which has flowed under the bridge since the action tipped off last October and not least, a change of both head coach and several playing personnel.
|One of several absences on the Targoviste roster: Elina Babkina |
George Dikeoulakos handed the baton to his former assistant Florin Nini during the mid-season break, accompanied by a steady stream of outgoing players including the likes of Monique Currie, Elina Babkina and Milka Bjelica.
But, despite this upheaval, the club has managed to fight hard to stay in the play-off picture and according to Ivanka Matic, pressure won't be an issue as they bid to outpace UE Sopron for fifth spot - even with so much riding on the game.
"I expect us to give our best in this moment because we don`t have anything to lose" insisted the Serbian veteran.
Perhaps the biggest issue for Matic and her team-mates will be trying to bounce back mentally from an incredible roller-coaster match-up at Arras last week, which resulted in a stomach-churning and potentially fatal, one point defeat.
"Well, losing a game as we did in Arras was a big disappointment for us, since we had a win secured in our pocket" admitted Matic.
"But, basketball is a game that we need to play until the end.
She continued, "Like I said before, all of this is huge experience for Romanian basketball and as players, we are all trying to make the whole of Romania proud as much as we can!"
Coach Nini echoed the words of Matic and is similarly ready to step out and go all out for the win, although he is understandably concerned over the health of point-guard Maja Miljkovic who picked up an injury in the Romanian League.
He said, "It would be nice to qualify and we're ready to make a good game.
"They [Kosice] have serious experience at this level and their strong point is defence. The pace of the game from Kosice is also very high.
"But, we will try to get a positive result and the girls are focused and aware of the importance of this match.
|The EuroLeague Women's third best assister Miljana Bojovic and her Good Angels have logged top spot in Group C |
"Maja (Miljkovic) suffered a sprain in the game at Craiova and could not continue.
"We will make every effort so that she is able to play, because it would be a big loss for us if she didn't as she has had high responsibilities in every game this year."
The play-caller also bemoaned his team having spurned a great chance of progressing last week in France.
"At this level, every detail can make the difference" he reiterated.
"It would be unfair to blame someone for the recent results, because the Arras game was lost on a number of different individual mistakes."
Heading into this regular season finale, Targoviste have now lost six successive games off the back of their impressive three game winning streak during last November.
In contrast, Good Angels Kosice have nine wins and just two losses, with both defeats coming on the road - although they have won their last two games on their travels at Sopron and Arras.
The first meeting between the teams at the Infinity Arena resulted in an 83-78 success for Kosice, with Plenette Pierson leading the way with 21 points and Miljana Bojovic dishing up nine assists.