09 October, 2018
14 April, 2019
All you need to know about the Semi-Finals - who will make the title game?
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All you need to know about the Semi-Finals - who will make the title game?

SOPRON (Hungary) - It's where EuroLeague Women dreams are mostly made and shattered, with Friday's Semi-Finals likely to be no different as the last four teams standing try to make the title game.

ZVVZ USK Praha v Dynamo Kursk

Looking like the most balanced (on paper) of the two Semi-Finals, ZVVZ USK Praha will still be underdogs and will know that there will never be a better time to break their worrying losing streak against Kursk. They have lost all seven EuroLeague Women meetings against their opponents to date, including at the Semi-Final stage just two years ago, when they went down 87-80 in overtime. Although the positive is that Praha are on a six-game winning streak currently and so arrive in great form. Meanwhile Kursk are a staggering 50-2 in past seasons, losing to Sopron earlier this year and in the 2018 Semi-Final against UMMC.

Playcallers: Both clubs are competing in their fourth Final Four of the last five years, with playcallers Natalia Hejkova and Lucas Mondelo bringing vast experience with seven titles between them. If it goes down to the wire, both teams could barely ask for more know-how on the sidelines than they have.

‘X-Factor’: Sonja Petrovic of Dynamo Kursk has been relatively quiet in 2018-19, or at least if you are measuring by the sky-high standards the brilliant Serbian talent has previously set. Could this be the time she turns up the dial and shows her class? Of course, if she does, that would be driving a dagger through the heart of not only her former club, but where she won the title, in Prague back in 2015.

Thomas at the Double: ZVVZ USK Praha have seen their players make 15 double-doubles this season and that is more than any other team. Much of that is due to Alyssa Thomas, who has claimed 9 of them in her last 11 outings. She is also the only player in the competition this season to be leader for a team in points (17.4), rebounds (10.3) and assists per game (4.9).

All Eyes On Stewart: The fans voted her Regular Season MVP and she is the only player in EuroLeague Women averaging more than 20 points per game. Will she get to the Final in what has been her long anticipated rookie year?

Under The Radar: Epiphanny Prince of Dynamo Kursk is one of the two players in the tournament to have scored more than 50 percent of attempts from long range (51.7 percent).

Critical Numbers: Dynamo Kursk have made more free throws (216) than any other side in EuroLeague Women this season and with 64 blocks, this is also more than any other team.

Key Matchup: If Praha want to compete where they need to on the glass, then Marija Rezan in particular is going to have to be strong against Natasha Howard who has been growing in influence since her mid-season arrival at Kursk.

Key Question for Praha: Can they box out effectively to initiate transition and therefore 'run and gun' as usual?

Key Question for Kursk: Will they show it is not all about 'Stewie' and the supporting cast will shift up a gear for this vital last piece of the jigsaw at the Final Four, when everyone needs to be on their game?

UMMC Ekaterinburg v Sopron Basket

Will the reigning champions use their tradition, power and depth to deny the Sopron locals another memorable night in their club's history? Certainly that is the most likely outcome for the runaway favorites in this matchup, but Sopron showed in last year's Semi-Final, they have no respect for the script - even if UMMC did prevail in the title game by a big 72-53 margin. Sopron are at their third Final Four and after a bumpy Regular Season, enter this game looking for a sixth straight EuroLeague Women victory. As for UMMC, they are at their 12th Final Four in a row and looking for a fifth title and the most of the modern era as they also look to become the first club to defend their title since Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje back in 2010. UMMC have only lost once this season when they fell at Praha.

Playcallers: Compatriots Miguel Mendez and Roberto Iniguez each bring knowledge of what it feels like to win it all. Indeed both playcallers went up against each other way back in the 2012 title game with Rivas Ecopolis and Ros Casares respectively and Iniguez come out on top. Meanwhile Mendez arrives in Sopron as the reigning champion playcaller.

'X-Factor': UMMC have so many offensive weapons, but will it be the downtown shooting power of Kayla McBride that kills off Sopron?

Turner To Sing The Tune: Yvonne Turner has played more minutes than any other player in EuroLeague Women this season and when she is on-song, so are Sopron. She makes the host club tick and that is evidenced by her 5.6 assists per game and the fact she was only just edged out of being crowned Best Guard of the Regular Season in the Fan Vote.

Go Time for Griner: Brittney Grinner has made 29 blocks this season and that is more than any other player. She is also the leader for UMMC in both points (14.9) and rebounds per game (7.9), which evidences just how influential she has been - again!

Under The Radar: Courtney Vandersloot and McBride will be feeling a sense of deja-vu when they step out in this game, but will be hoping history doesn't repeat itself. Prior to their move to Ekaterinburg last summer, remember they were in the Yakin Dogu Universitesi side that lost to Sopron in that famous and dramatic 2018 Semi-Final.

Critical Numbers: UMMC have scored more points per game (81.9) than any other team in EuroLeague Women this season. They have grabbed more rebounds (44.6) and made the most assists per game (23.1) than any other team as well. Although the positive for Sopron is that one team have made fewer turnovers per game than them (11.3) in the competition.

Key Matchup: Swedish standout and Sopron favorite Amanda Zahui will have her hands full trying to guard the towering Brittney Griner, who is probably the biggest matchup headache for any opponent in the entire competition. But if she can avoid foul trouble and use her extended shooting range, Zahui could be the key for Sopron.

Key Question for UMMC: The only trouble they have been in this season during any games has been when they have not rebounded well enough, so will this be the key and main focus?

Key Question for Sopron: Can they keep the contest ugly to stay in the game for long enough to at least threaten an upset for the terrific home fans?

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.