EuroCup Women Semi-Finals second leg preview: Friday 24 March
MUNICH (EuroCup Women) – We prepare for an exciting pair of second leg games in the EuroCup Women Semi-Finals, with a quartet of Turkish clubs all still in contention for this year’s title.
BELLONA AGU v HATAY BSB
There was a noisy and passionate crowd in Antakya for the first game and it will be the same in Kayseri, where the home side will be favorites to progress off the back of their 71-65 victory on the road. However, Hatay will know that they can play with more freedom as they look for an historic first Final spot, while in contrast, Bellona Agu must deal with the anticipation and weight of local expectation.
Previous Meetings: Both teams have also met in Kayseri in the Turkish League, with Bellona Agu taking a comfortable 75-61 success last month. That was despite a brilliant 16 points and 22 rebounds from Hatay center, Courtney Paris.
Key Match-Up: One of the most interesting match-ups from the first game was Bellona Agu star Jelena Dubljevic playing time on the wing and going up against Belarusian Katsiaryna Snytsina. It was fascinating because the former is often thought to be more at home fighting in the paint, but with Lara Sanders and Ann Wauters under the basket, she allows Agu to field a seriously big line-up. Meanwhile, Snytsina still looks like the one player for Hatay aside from Paris, who could go off and net a game-winning contribution if she finds her radar.
- Hatay will have to make some history if they want to have an opportunity of reaching the Final, since Bellona Agu have not lost a Semi-Final in the competition. They won [as Kayseri Kaski Spor] 77-65 against Botas in 2012 and then 73-65 against MBK Ruzomberok in 2013.
- When Bellona Agu played the 2012 Final, Bahar Ozturk was in the line-up and played 37 minutes. This time around she is up against her old club and wearing Hatay colors.
- Bellona Agu have the best free-throw shooting numbers of the teams left in the tournament with 76.3 percent.
What They Say:
"We didn’t play as we wanted [in the first game] but we won. Now we want to beat Hatay in the second game and go to the Final." Bellona Agu guard, Tanisha Wright.
"We played well [in the first leg] but Agu have experience for this level. We did a good job, but we were unlucky with some shots. It’s not over yet, the first half [of the tie] has only finished. We will have been working on our mistakes and will be ready for the second game." Hatay head coach, Aikaterini Chatzidaki.
YAKIN DOGU UNIVERSITESI v GALATASARAY
It could have all been over for Galatasaray who trailed Yakin Dogu Universitesi by as many as 21 points and by double-digits for much of the first game before recovering to get within six points of their rivals at 87-81. That makes for a fascinating second game as they try to secure a ticket for their second EuroCup Women Final. As for the hosts, they might feel they let Galatasaray off the hook and have given them a big second chance. But, with so much depth all over the court, Yakin Dogu still remain favorites to make their maiden EuroCup Women Final appearance next month.
Previous Meetings: Both teams have also met in the Turkish League with Yakin Dogu Universitesi as the home side. They came out on top back in November by 72-64.
Key Match-Up: While a lot of the talk after the first game has been about the sensational Moriah Jefferson of Galatasaray and Kayla McBride of Yakin Dogu who put up 31 and 26 points respectively, there was also a mighty game from Quanitra Hollingsworth. The Yakin Dogu center was a colossus with 26 points of her own and somebody is going to have to step up physically and shut her down in the second game. Although, with Yelena Leuchanka and Angelica Robinson to call upon as well in a superb Yakin Dogu post rotation, it is a tough ask for the likes of Kristine Vitola or Astou Traore to keep Hollingsworth and Co quiet.
- Belarus national team legend Yelena Leuchanka is looking to eliminate her former team. She played for Galatasaray during the season after they won EuroCup Women 2009.
- Yakin Dogu Universitesi inflicted a first home defeat of the season on their opponents in the competition and now Galatasaray must do the same to have any chance of making it to the Final.
- If Galatasaray do make it, there could be a sister act in the Final, since Ashley Paris might get to go up against Courtney, who plays with Hatay.
What They Say:
"It was a tough [first] game. Yakin Dogu Universitesi are a great team, as they have good players and a good coach. My players did everything they could to win. It was magnificent to play in front of our fans as they are the best fans in Europe and I was disappointed about the result." Galatasaray head coach, Marina Maljkovic.
"We knew it was a tough game, but we won and we’re happy about that. We have a six-point advantage and now we’re really looking forward to playing in this second game." Yakin Dogu Universitesi and Sweden national team guard, Elin Eldebrink.