|19 March 2013|
|Seimone Augustus and Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje can make matters simpler for themselves with a win on Wednesday|
With only one team guaranteed a position in the semi-finals, plenty of intrigue remains heading into Day 3 of group play at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
Most of that intrigue centres around Group B, in which all teams may still advance. Here is a rundown of the Group B scenarios:
a) If Bourges win and Fenerbahce beat Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje, Bourges will progress, as do Fenerbahce.
b) If Bourges win, as do Sparta&K, there will be a three-way tie, also involving Fenerbahce. The two teams showing the best goal average in games involving these three teams will then advance.
c) Should Schio defeat Bourges and Sparta&K defeat Fenerbahce, then the latter two teams will advance.
d) Should Schio win, as do Fenerbahce, there will again be a three-team tie. Fenerbahce advance with a 3-0 record, whilst the other three teams in the group will have 1-2 records. In this scenario, the team showing the best goal average in games involving the three tied teams joins Fenerbahce in the semi-finals.
Bourges vs. Famila Schio
Form Guide: Bourges and Famila Schio both have a slim chance of progressing and their respective basket difference isn't in a great position if there is a three-way tie situation. Bourges come into the game with the biggest scalp to date at the Final Eight whilst Schio still await their first win.
Breakdown: Bourges head coach Valerie Garnier is concerned her threadbare team may be caught out by fatigue when they face Schio "It was a good day for us against Sparta&K, because it was a very bad day against Fenerbahce. We have had a lot of problems this season with injuries and without a lot of rotation, it will be difficult for my team because they are very tired, especially mentally."
Key Match Up: Bourges must guard Jantel Lavender who has been hot for Schio despite two losses and that responsibility is likely to fall upon Emmeline Ndongue, a player known for her solid defence and hard work.
Stats Don't Lie: Both teams have struggled at the offensive end in terms of spreading the scoring load and each have had one game when only one single player managed to make double-digits.
Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje vs. Fenerbahce
Form Guide: Fenerbahce have extended their winning streak to five games, whilst Sparta&K must bounce back from their loss to Bourges in what was their first loss during 2013. If Fenerbahce win they progress at the expense of their opponents
Breakdown: Both teams are similar in their approach to the game, playing with a nicely balanced inside-outside line-up. Sparta&K are arguably better in the half-court and Fener better running, although both are adept at each offensive approach. According to Sparta&K head coach Pokey Chatman, her teams' defence will be the key. "We need to play at a high level defensively for the full 40 minutes, like we did during the third and fourth quarter against Bourges." She was also concerned that she may be without Rebekkah Hammon for the game, with the veteran struggling after picking up an injury, "I don't know with a hamstring injury, you just can't go 50% at this level as it hurts not only the player, but also the team."
Key Match Up: As well as deciding who will guard Birsel Vardarli and Cappie Pondexter in the likely absence of Hammon, another key match-up will be between Angel McCoughtry and Candice Dupree in the forward spots. The duo used to work in tandem in the competition earlier in their careers at Good Angels Kosice.
Stats Don't Lie: Whilst both coaches have spoken about defence, each team has plenty of firepower. In fact, these are the two most prolific teams in the tournament with Sparta&K pouring in 80.9 and Fener racking up 79.7-per-game.
UMMC Ekaterinburg vs. Galatasaray
Form Guide: UMMC Ekaterinburg are already group winners and yet to lose on their own court this season. Galatasaray are only playing for pride and will return to Istanbul prematurely hoping it is not winless with a 0-3 record.
Breakdown: Any notion of UMMC relaxing in this game was dismissed vigorously by Olaf Lange with the coach having insisted his team will be ready, even if on paper at least, it has limited meaning. He explained, "This is a marathon not a sprint, but I think a couple of things are important. I always say winning is a habit and so is losing - we don't want to lose our rhythm in a tournament situation and we really want to win this game."
Key Match Up: Anete Jekabsone has had a great EuroLeague Women Final Eight so far and it will be interesting to see if she can continue this against whoever guards her and it could be one of several options including Eshaya Murphy, Isil Alben, Lindsey Harding or even Alba Torrens.
Stats Don't Lie: Whilst few Gala players have done themselves justice, there have been really lean offensive pickings from the wing areas for example, with Eshaya Murphy and Alba Torrens a combined six-of26 - just 23%.
|Good Angels head coach Maros Kovacik is confident his team can bounce back on Wednesday|
Good Angels Kosice vs. CCC Polkowice
Form Guide: Both teams have won once and lost once since arriving in Russia, leading to this mouth-watering showdown to determine who hits the floor in the semi-finals and who hits the airport check-in desks.
Breakdown: It's been a while since Good Angels Kosice have had to bounce back from a loss and it isn't something they have had to do too many times this year. Head coach Maros Kovacik was adamant his team can respond and was in a philosophical mood after the heavy defeat to UMMC. He said, "We just had a bad day and for sure, lost against the best team at the Euroleague Women Final Eight. It is important for us to stay positive." Meanwhile his fellow coach Jacek Winnicki is thrilled both clubs have the chance to make the last four: "It's great that it means so much for both clubs to even have the possibility to reach the semi-finals. Both teams will be ready for this game."
Key Match Up: Good Angels center Petra Kulichova could potentially prove a real handful under the basket for CCC Polkowice and it will be a real battle with Agnieszka Majewska and Magdalena Leciejewska.
Stats Don't Lie: Kosice endured their worst shooting performance of the entire season against UMMC in their last game, managing a paltry 27.9% from the field.