Heartbreak for hosts as Nadezhda celebrate first EuroCup Women silverware
MONTPELLIER (France) - Nadezhda didn't read the script as they came from behind to win a historic first ever EuroCup Women title by beating BLMA 75-57 on French soil.
Turning point: Trailing by four points after their home-court loss in the first leg, Nadezhda sensed the title might be theirs with a strong 12-4 run either side of the interval. That put them ahead 39-27 and they always seemed to be in control and full of belief after that point.
Stats don't lie: BLMA got locked down by some superb Nadezhda defense and their total of 57 points was their lowest of the entire season. Meanwhile Nadezhda did the business on the glass with a massive 18 offensive rebounds and killing their opponents 52-33 on the boards overall.
Game heroes: It was the familiar duo of Erica Wheeler and Brionna Jones who brought some serious noise. Wheeler was full of energy and ended up with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Jones was her usual powerful self in the paint with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bottom Line: It was a glorious opportunity for BLMA, who fell short in what will be a bitter pill to swallow as they lost for the first time on their home floor all season. Only one team had ever previously allowed the title to slip through their fingers on their own court having won the first leg on the road. They didn't perform on the boards or find their shooting touch and were knocked out of their offensive rhythm. Credit for that must go to Nadezhda and primarily Victor Lapena, who has had a brilliant first season at the helm and has now delivered his employers a maiden European trophy. That continues the amazing success of Spanish coaches in Europe and especially with Russian clubs. It was built on team defense and the calmness of the play-caller himself under pressure, as that shone through alongside his players stepping up on the floor.
What They Said: "I would like to say thank you to my players because it was a great match for us and for the way we prepared and everything else. My players trusted in me and thanks to my staff as well. I must also say congratulations to Montpellier for their amazing organization and for the amazing gym and atmosphere." Nadezhda head coach, Victor Lapena.
"Defense was the difference. Every last one of them (BLMA) can shoot and that is what we stressed all week. We had to get over the screens and that is what we focused on. We knew they were a very good three-point shooting team and that it didn't matter, even if they made two points. We defended the three well and played good defense, helped each other and knocked down a few shots." Nadezhda guard, Erica Wheeler