Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Euroleague Quarterfinals 1/2008 - Spartak 65, Ros Casares 57

Diana Taurasi threatens to throw a ball at Erika de Souza for her impertinence.

In the best-of-three quarterfinals of Euroleague, every game is critical. For Ros Casares, it's even more critical as El Ros does not have home field advantage. They had to travel all the way to Russia to face a virtual all-star team in Spartak, a team with players like Lauren Jackson and Sylvia Fowles.

And believe it or not, they managed to close to within two points with less than two minutes to go. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes as Ros Casares lost on the road 65-57.

The box score, write-ups and game gallery can all be found here.

Spartak took off with the lead and almost never lost it. They led 21-13 after the first quarter and led by 13 points at one time in the second quarter. At haltime, they led 33-24.

In the third quarter, however, Amaya Valdemoro of Ros Casares scored three straight field goals, including a layup that put Ros Casares ahead 42-41, their first lead in the game. Spartak fought back and led 47-42 after three quarters.

Spartak was like a rabbit with a hound dog on its heels - they could never establish a significant lead over Ros Casares in the first part of the fourth quarter. Delisha Milton-Jones hit a 3-pointer with 3:34 left to tie the game at 55-55, and her next jumper would close the score to 59-57 Spartak with 1:43 left in the game.

But if a team knew how to win, it was Spartak. Diana Taurasi found Sylvia Fowles for the layut which turned into a 3-point play on a Delisha Milton-Jones foul. Valdemoro tried a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left that didn't fall - but the 3-pointer by Lauren Jackson with 14 seconds left found its mark and Spartak would win by eight. (Spartak would only hit two of their 21 3-point attempts, but that one would be a killer.)

Spartak only hit 33 percent of their field goal attempts, due to going 2-for-21 behind the 3-point line. Fortunately for the home team, Ros Casares only hit 30 percent of their attempts. Both teams had similar rebounding and turnover stats. Foul trouble hurt Ros Casares, as they sent Spartak to the line 21 times and Spartak hit 81 percent of its shots.

Four players scored in double figures for Spartak. Lauren Jackson, a former MVP and now free agent, scored 17 points and seven rebounds. Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) scored 12 points each, with Fowles adding nine rebounds. Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Kelly Miller of the Phoenix Mercury also threw in six points. Jurgita Streimikyte, who last played for the Pacers in 2005 only scored two points - but both points were free throws with less than three minutes remaining.

Amaya Valdemoro picked up a double-double for Ros Casares with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The other WNBA players on Ros Casares's roster didn't do so well. Elisa Aguilar was the only other Ros player in double digits with 11. Delisha Milton-Jones only scored eight points and seven rebounds, Candace Wiggins only had four points and two rebounds, and the Atlanta Dream's own Erika de Souza could only add six points and six rebounds in 21 minutes of play.

(* * *)

The next game for Ros Casares is at home on Friday, February 20th. According to Bert at the Painel do Basquete Feminino blog, Ros Casares's goal is to have 6500 people show up on Friday. This would be a Euroleague record, and Ros Casares is an interesting club and has a shot of reaching that goal.

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