All you need to know about the EuroLeague Women 2019 Final
SOPRON (Hungary) - Two EuroLeague Women juggernauts will collide in the 2019 Final, but will it be UMMC Ekaterinburg or Dynamo Kursk who will take the title?
We're going to be treated to the Final that everyone had anticipated when the very first game ball of the season was thrown up last October. These two heavyweights have certainly not disappointed, with only one loss each since then.
UMMC are the defending champions and at the 2018 edition, they wrestled the silverware away from the 2017 winners - namely Dynamo Kursk, who in turn, will now want to extract revenge by serving up some payback. UMMC are also bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since 2010 and the first team to take five titles in the modern era. As for Kursk, they are in their second Final in three seasons.
Playcallers: Spanish duo Lucas Mondelo and Miguel Mendez will have been planning for this moment all year. Both are class acts and will have their respective game plans ready. Mondelo is after his third title (having won in 2011 with Avenida and 2017 with Kursk) while Mendez is looking to add to his maiden title success last year.
All About That Defense: UMMC Ekaterinburg have conceded fewer than 60 points in four of their last five games in EuroLeague Women and turned off the Sopron offensive tap in the Semis. Dynamo Kursk had already shut down Praha in perhaps even more impressive fashion on Friday and you have to pay tribute to both teams at the defensive end lately. Kursk have also blocked more shots than anyone else.
Under The Radar: Dynamo Kursk beat UMMC in the Russian Premier League last month and it remains to be seen how this might impact, if at all. on this Final matchup.
Key Matchup: Sonja Petrovic caught fire in the Semi-Finals and another great European player in Alba Torrens showed glimpses of her star quality. Either of these two could land MVP honors ahead of favorites Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner.
Key Question for UMMC: Who will guard Stewart? Will that assignment be shared, who will be able to stop her and how much will UMMC focus on the jewel in the Kursk crown, or will they focus even more closely on preventing the secondary scorers?
Key Question for Kursk: Will the backcourt show up? Anna Cruz, Marta Xargay and Epiphanny Prince are top players, but they have not been on peak form to say the least and that could be exposed if they do not turn up the dial.
- This will be the 14th time in the last 17 years that, at least, a Russian team has been in the Final of EuroLeague Women and it will be a fourth consecutive time that a Russian team has won the title.
- In the last 11 years, only Diana Taurasi (3) and Alba Torrens (2) have been the Final Four MVP more than once.
- UMMC Ekaterinburg have scored 48.3 percent of their attempted field goals, the most among all teams in EuroLeague Women this season.
- Only TTT Riga have scored more three-pointers (122) than Dynamo Kursk in EuroLeague Women this season (114). Only Carolo Basket (39.5 percent) have scored at a higher ratio from behind the arc than Dynamo Kursk (38.8 percent) in EuroLeague Women in 2018-19.
- Brittney Griner has made 32 blocks in EuroLeague Women 2018-19, more than any other player. She has made 3+ blocks in seven of her 16 appearances in the competition this season.
- Courtney Vandersloot has dished 98 assists in EuroLeague Women, more than any other player in the competition this season. She has made 9.8 assists per 40 minutes, which is also the most among all players in EuroLeague Women in 2018-19.
- Breanna Stewart has scored 20+ points in nine of her last 12 EuroLeague Women games, including her 32-point performance against ZVVZ USK Praha in the previous game. She has made 2+ shots from behind the arc in her ten last consecutive appearances in the competition.
- Natasha Howard has combined for a double-double in four of her last six appearances in EuroLeague Women, including her 22-point and 10-rebound performance against Praha in the Semi-Finals.
In addition to Sunday's showpiece Final, pride will be at stake in the Third-Place Game when Sopron Basket match up against ZVVZ USK Praha.
Follow the action via our Live Blog and watch the games on YouTube and LiveBasketball.tv. Meanwhile fans in Hungary, Russia and Czech Republic can watch the games on TV via MTVA, Match TV, and Ceska televize respectively.
You can also access the Final Four Event Guide with features on a number of stars appearing at the event - both past and present.