11 October, 2022
16 April, 2023
12 Chelsea Gray (CBK)
Game Report
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Mersin puncture USK Praha to set up all-Turkish Final

PRAGUE (Czech Republic) - CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld are looking forward to stepping out for a historic maiden EuroLeague Women Final appearance after storming past local favorites ZVVZ USK Praha 78-58 in the Czech capital.

The Final Four rookies made their move in the third quarter and eased clear of the hosts with some smart basketball and defense that left Praha and a packed crowed bitterly disappointed. Mersin will matchup with fellow Turkish club Fenerbahce Alagoz Holding in the title game, while Praha will face Beretta Famila Schio in the Third Place game.

Turning point:
 Already leading 49-45 early in the third quarter, Mersin seized their opportunity to pull clear with a powerful 12-2 run, prospering from some sloppy ball handling and slack defense. It gave Praha a hill to climb and with such a limited rotation, it was more like a mountain for the short-handed home team. 

Game hero(es): This was a huge team effort by Mersin, with Elizabeth Williams and Aleksandra Crvendakic particularly impressive. Williams came up with 16 points,9 rebounds and 5 blocks, while Serbian forward Crvendakic returned 16 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists. With guard Tiffany Hayes netting 19 points and Chelsea Gray handing out 9 assists, there were a lot of heroes walking off the court after the final buzzer.

Stats Don't Lie:
 ZVVZ USK Praha were cold from downtown and made only 2-of-15 behind the three-point line. Meanwhile Mersin enjoyed themselves in the paint with a healthy 40 points compared to just 26 for Praha. But ultimately there was one standout number and that was 58 - the total number of points scored by Praha. Way off their season average.

Bottom line: This was a really smart performance from Mersin and epitomized by so many starting five players making telling contributions. The defense was also impressive too, with Willliams and her 5 blocks making a statement and providing energy and impetus to her team. They are now just one win away from silverware, loving life at Final Four and get to play their arch Turkish rivals in the Final too. 

ZVVZ USK Praha are not exactly known for their depth, so when Temi Fagbenle was ruled out of Final Four with an injury on the eve of the competition, it was a huge blow. Throw in the fact that Spanish win Maria Conde was returning from injury that had ruled her out of recent games and it was always going to be a big challenge ot sustain the intensity needed. Their lack of options was exposed and in truth, they were outplayed, with too many leading lights not able to shine when it mattered most.

"It's always nice to go all the way to the end with a great group. We have been through a lot this season and I am proud of us. I just like to win and I like to win with a good group. I play hard and that is important to our team. It was fun today." CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld guard, Tiffany Hayes

"I have all respect for Natalia [Hejkova], Praha and the organization. We gave up some points, but we made Praha uncomfortable on their offense. I don't remember a game when Praha only scored 58 points in a game at home. We get confidence from our defense, The players feel good on the court and we controlled the game. Now we have to recover the energy for Sunday." CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld head coach, Roberto Iniguez

"I think there is not much to say. They played better as a team than we did. They knew exactly what they wanted to do and where they wanted to put the ball and we had no answers. They knew exactly what they wanted to give us down the other side of the floor. Instead of looking for our game, we played their game." ZVVZ USK Praha winger, Valeriane Vukosavljevic

"I am very sad because it was a maybe our worst game of the season. Offensively to score 18 points in the second half for a team like we are was sad. , sad, sad. They know how we play and made a great job in defense. But it was a mental thing because we started to play what they wanted. It was our mistake." ZVVZ USK Praha head coach, Natalia Hejkova