|06 March 2013|
| Candace Parker will look to repay the faith that UMMC Ekaterinburg have shown in her|
Each weekday in the lead up to the EuroLeague Women Final Eight, fibaeurope.com profiles one of the eight teams who will be appearing in Ekaterinburg. Today we begin with hosts UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Road to Final Eight:
UMMC Ekaterinburg finished the Regular Season with the best record of all teams, winning Group C with only one loss to their name which came in their penultimate game of the regular season against Perfumerias Avenida in Salamanca. They sat out the play-offs, automatically qualifying for the Final Eight on account of being hosts.
Keep an Eye On:
In a team loaded with talent, Diana Taurasi headlines the statistics with 16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and five assists a night. However, the real star of the season so far has been Candace Parker who beat fellow American Sue Bird for a Final Eight roster spot and is now looking to pay back the trust with big numbers. The decision to plump for her will be justified if she helps the hosts win the title by averaging similar stats to her impressive, near double-double season of 16.6 points and 9.4 rebounds.
Having opted not to go with Sue Bird, there is a big onus on the performance of Spanish national team playmaker Silvia Dominguez. She certainly knows how to get it done in the big games, since she is bidding for her third EuroLeague Women title in a row. Last year she won the title with Ros Casares, after winning her first title in Ekaterinburg with Perfumerias Avenida. Pressure and expectation could once again weigh heavy on UMMC and this is a factor even for the biggest teams. Everything looks to be stacked in their favour, but it was arguably a similar situation two years ago when they hosted the event and they couldn't get the job done. Despite the incredible depth of their overall roster, an injury to Dominguez or having to play without her for long spells when in foul trouble could be particularly challenging. They are certainly favourites, and with good reason, but it's no foregone conclusion.
UMMC scored the most points in an individual game this season when they racked up 101 in a regular season win against Novi Zagreb. They are the only team to reach double-digits in blocked shots during any game in the competition with 10 against CCC Polkowice. They also have more assists than any other club with 20.7 per game. Defensively, opponents have shot the lowest field goal percentage against UMMC at 36.6%.
UMMC's only EuroLeague Women title came during their 2002/03 debut season. The Russian powerhouse has been a household name in the competition ever since, having reached the final stage in the past five years, always finishing in third place.