A Crvendakic dagger, some McCoughtry magic and history for Yakin Dogu headlines top talking points
MUNICH (EuroLeague Women) - The second game day of the Quarter-Finals proved decisive in all but one match-up, with three tickets to Final Four 2018 now taken.
It was another fascinating night of action and we reflect on the main talking points.
Crvendakic delivers the dagger for Sopron, Milovanovic extends
There was so much to admire about Sopron winning in Istanbul against Fenerbahce. Trailing 0-1 in the series and down by double-digits early, it looked bleak. But, with the experience of Jelena Milovanovic in particular, a timely top-drawer display from Alaina Coates and the late intervention of Serbian ace Aleksandra Crvendakic, they pulled off a comeback success to force a decider. It was compelling stuff to watch from tip to buzzer. Notably, it was some of the rising stars who made the decisive plays.
.@WBSopron end Q3 on a high with a big triiiiiple! @AnSalvadores showing that classy touch and @Robertoih5 loved that - he was onto the court to support his fellow 🇪🇸#EuroLeagueWomen pic.twitter.com/GvRAfe7BCT— Paul Nilsen (@basketmedia365) March 7, 2018
Spanish guard Angela Salvadores ended the third period with a big step-back triple to keep Sopron on the front foot. Then, inside the last minute, Crvendakic slammed home the dagger as the shot clock expired. It was gripping for the neutrals and Roberto Iniguez certainly enjoyed the return to his old home court!
Plus, there was the added bonus of Milovanovic extending her stay at the club into the 2018-19 season - a further boost ahead of next week's deciding game!
McCoughtry making moves
There was a sense of deja vu as Angel McCoughtry came alive in the second game of the Quarter-Finals to get the job wrapped up for Dynamo Kursk with 23 points in a hard-fought win at Famila Schio. In our match-ups preview, we anticipated this might happen as she replicated this time last year, when she helped Kursk reach the Final Four on the road at Bourges with a similar performance. She went on to be crowned MVP of course as her club took their first title. Will the sense of deja vu continue next month?
Yet more history for Yakin Dogu Universitesi
They said they wanted to be a EuroLeague Women powerhouse and it is going to plan so far for Yakin Dogu Universitesi. Having won EuroCup Women last year, they have now reached the Final Four during their rookie season in EuroLeague Women. They are also a serious contender [not that we didn't already know that] and so watch out - them winning the title in their first season is not out of the question by any means as their hunt for yet more silverware goes on.
Coates puts on a show in Istanbul
It has been a tough time in the past year for Alaina Coates. She has had to complete rehabilitation for a serious injury and somehow try to live up to her lofty reputation as one of the best American prospects around - yet without being at the peak of her powers. Parachuted into Sopron to somehow try and replace the departed Crystal Langhorne, she struggled to impose herself initially, but is getting stronger with every game. Against Fenerbahce it was her 5-of-5 from the floor for 13 points and 8 boards, that underpinned the fabulous victory. It also gave a glimpse into what we can expect from the center when she is truly back to firing on all cylinders and with much more game-time behind her!
More than par for Prague
Even if they were outclassed by UMMC in the first game of the Quarter-Finals, you have to say that ZVVZ USK Praha did deliver to even make it to the post-season and were improved in the second meeting. With the heart of their team being ripped out at the end of last season and with a considerable influx and greater reliance on emerging Czech players, there were some concerns that Natalia Hejkova might struggle to continue her success at the club. But, the wily veteran took Prague to the end of a road nobody probably thought they would be going down. So, in summary, they probably passed a par score/rating for the season against what was expected.
Some sympathy for Schio
#FamilaSchio mette alle corde per 35’ @dynamokursk ma non basta 😢 alla #FinalFour di #Euroleaguewomen vanno le russe. Rimane l’orgoglio per averci portato tra le migliori 8 d’Europa. Grazie ragazze ❤️Domenica torna il campionato con il derby vs @umanareyer e ci sarà ancora bisogno di tutto l’orange possibile in campo e sugli spalti 💪🏀
Famila Schio pushed Dynamo Kursk as well as anybody has done, even if the scoreline didn't reflect it during the second game. Pierre Vincent has done the super job everyone anticipated, their defense resolute and very much the trademark of their play-caller. They had Kursk in trouble at the half in the second game - that was evidenced by Lucas Mondelo working his way to get a technical to fire up the champions who trailed by 8 points at the break. Schio are such a solid team and they may be cursing the fact they had to face Kursk at this stage, since they might have got even closer against another opponent. Italian silverware surely now beckons with the likes of Jolene Anderson, Cecilia Zandalasini and Isabelle Yacoubou ready to light it up.
Bye bye Bourges
It is the end of the road for this trio, with Bourges and Prague perhaps not truly doing themselves justice during the post season. Bourges were dismantled rather brutally at Le Prado by Yakin Dogu Universitesi after a shocking start, meaning they couldn't recover. At least they can now focus on their French Cup Final which is scheduled for the same weekend as the Final Four. They have had such an up and down roller-coaster season in EuroLeague Women and an exit in the Quarter-Finals was about right against pre-season expectation. Thanks for the memories on offense, since we all enjoyed watching the wing play of Valeriane Ayayi and the walking highlights reel, Marine Johannes. Just a pity we don't get a fairytale return to the Final Four for EuroLeague Women legend, Laia Palau!