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My EuroLeague Women Final Four ups, downs and ratings for 2012-2017
NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen's Women's Basketball Worldwide) – With people believing the EuroLeague Women Final Four 2018 could be the most exciting ever, which previous editions will it have to surpass to be considered the best?
Here are my own personal ratings for the last six Final Four tournaments, listing some of the ups and downs.
(2017) Ekaterinburg – 8 out of 10
• Seeing history made is always special and this was a maiden title for Dynamo Kursk who did it in style with an unbeaten campaign.
• It was the first Final Four for the phenomenal Maria Vadeeva, who is likely to be a permanent fixture at the event for the next decade and beyond.
• Fenerbahce shocking host club UMMC brought the surprise factor to the table, made even more enjoyable with the young players really bringing it for them.
• Seeing the legendary Diana Taurasi as a pale shadow of her former self for UMMC and also the lack of trust arguably shown by Olaf Lange in the fantastic Alba Torrens.
• The Final always looked like Dynamo Kursk would win it – and they did.
(2016) Istanbul – 7 out of 10
• Seeing history as Nadezhda stepped out on a first-ever Final Four and made the title game at the first time of asking.
• DeWanna Bonner. Enough said
• That famous three-point shooting sequence in the Final.
• One of the best arenas in the European game.
• Fenerbahce losing the Semi-Final, which made the entire weekend feel a little bit like an anti-climax.
• The Final may have been close, but in truth, it was an ugly defensive contest that lacked anything special outside of the brief flurry of triples.
• Lack of atmosphere in the cavernous Ulker Arena that was barely half full for the Final.
(2015) Prague - 9 out of 10
• A different style arena, with a nice atmosphere and more intimate feel that really suited the action.
• The underdogs ZVVZ USK Prague winning against the odds and expectations in a super-charged and absorbing Final.
• Kia Vaughn with a monumental couple of games to take MVP, the lightning impact of Danielle Robinson and classy cameo from Sonja Petrovic.
• The largest MVP trophy in the tournament's history which was almost as big as Kia Vaughn herself and the most amusing question she's ever answered in a press-conference when asked how she was going to get it to the States.
• Natalia Hejkova winning again to remain unbeaten in the Final. Simply amazing.
• No Diana Taurasi for UMMC who missed the tournament with injury
• Dynamo Kursk and Fenerbahce were both so bad.
(2014) Ekaterinburg – 8 out of 10
• Seeing history made as Galatasaray won their first-ever EuroLeague Women title and become the first Turkish club to finish top of the podium – and doing it against their bitter rivals Fenerbahce.
• The story of Sebnem Kimyacioglu stepping off the bench to drill a couple of dagger triples and seeing her become a Galatasaray legend for life after those shots.
• One of the good guys in head coach Ekrem Memnun getting himself into Galatasaray folklore with that title success.
• The 29-point display of Alba Torrens in the Semi-Finals to beat UMMC. Sensational.
• Even as a neutral, you could feel the agony of Fenerbahce as they failed again when it looked like they would do it.
• Too many 'dead rubber' games and a gulf between the 4-8-placed teams and the top three clubs.
(2013) Ekaterinburg - 7 out of 10
• Candace Parker finally shutting up the critics and seeing all those long Russian winters become worthwhile as she was named MVP upon taking UMMC back to the title and ending their shocking barren run of almost a decade.
• A third straight title for Silvia Dominguez with a third different club.
• Good Angels Kosice making the Semi-Finals and the emergence of head coach, Maros Kovacik.
• Seeing Laia Palau and Nnemkadi Ogwumike for CCC Polkowice on their exciting and unexpected ride to the final phase.
• The legendary Maria Stepanova lifting that trophy one last time.
• One of the most one-sided Finals there has ever been as UMMC destroyed Fenerbahce.
• One-sided Semi-Final games.
• Players looking far too tired in too many of the games and lesser quality plays and games as a result.
• Few non-UMMC fans and so atmosphere was missing something.
(2012) Istanbul – 8 out of 10
• First-ever Final Eight so some history and an interesting experiment which made it feel like a standalone tournament, with more games – rather than a long weekend.
• An almost unprecedented Final Four atmosphere when Galatasaray played Fenerbahce.
• History for Ros Casares with their first title and head coach Roberto Iniguez announcing his arrival on the big stage (we would get to see a lot more of him!).
• Rivas Ecopolis the underdogs making it all the way to the Final (under current UMMC head coach Miguel Mendez).
• Penny Taylor getting an ACL which not only torpedoed the prospects of Fenerbahce getting a first title, but was left gutted as she missed out on the London Olympics with the Opals.
• Alba Torrens on crutches as well.
• A 'mini-riot' between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray followers.
• Ros Casares never played again in EuroLeague Women as the club effectively folded due to financial difficulties within weeks of their title.
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