|"I am already really feeling it physically after some really tough games, but things will only get more difficult against Bourges" - Angel McCoughtry |
Fenerbahce star Angel McCoughtry is ready for Tango Bourges to pose a huge physical test when the clubs go up against each other in the last four of the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
Having both reached the same stage last year, with the Turkish juggernauts eventually jumping a further step into the Final itself, it promises to be an intense duel according to the USA national team player.
"I am already really feeling it physically after some really tough games, but things will only get more difficult against Bourges," declared McCoughtry.
"I think Sparta&K gave us the hardest game we have had all season and they are such a well-coached team and have some great players - but the semi-final will be exactly the same.
"Bourges are a big team and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it will be a game determined by rebounding and also whether we can play better defence.
"They also actually have a great point guard too," added McCoughtry with a smile.
"Celine Dumerc will of course be a future team-mate of mine."
But before the pair can pull in the same direction for Atlanta Dream in the WNBA, they will of course be doing everything they can to shatter each other's respective chances of making the title game.
Neither side have found top gear and each are missing a key player in Quanitra Hollingsworth and Johannah Leedham respectively. Indeed Fenerbahce head coach Roberto Iniguez wasn't hiding from the fact his players have not yet performed to their full potential.
"I accept we are currently playing with low percentages," he said candidly.
"Offensively we are still under stress and I know my team and know they can move the ball much better.
"But playing like this and yet still winning by fighting so hard for absolutely everything, is a big positive for us - it says a lot of good things about my players.
|"Everyone did a great job against Nadezhda and we know Fenerbahce are a strong team and especially under the basket" - Marianna Tolo |
"Absolutely everybody from myself, the players and all the staff, just want to get back to the Final for the fans back in Turkey because we know they are all right behind us."
Meanwhile Bourges center Marianna Tolo feels her team can relax a little now they have reached the last four again.
"I think we probably always hoped, but didn't necessarily expect to get this far in all our competitions, because there are just so many games," said the Final Eight debutante.
"But we are now in a good position domestically and we can also enjoy this semi-final game.
"Everyone did a great job against Nadezhda and we know Fenerbahce are a strong team and especially under the basket.
"However, we feel that we are too and we are really looking forward to it and will just try to express ourselves in the best way we can."
Key match-up: It will be fascinating to see how Fenerbahce try to limit the influence of Dumerc and who out of their main guard rotation of Birsel Vardarli, Cappie Pondexter and Esmeral Tuncluer will take the primary responsibility for this hugely important defensive assignment.
‘X-Factors': As noted by McCoughtry, the battle on the glass will be essential and also whether Bourges can cut down on turnovers, an issue which could eventually bite them hard. With so much attention likely to be on the playmakers and paint, perhaps it could be one of the shooters from each team such as Cathy Joens or Agnieszka Bibryzycka who slide back onto the radar with a headline display or the kind of cameo which makes a huge difference in what might be a tight game.