Best-of-three Euroleague Quarterfinal series kicked off with Tuesday’s Game 1s, and both Spartak Moscow Region and Wisla Can-Pack recorded home victories.
Spartak led Turkish power Fenerbahce by 21 with four minutes to play before Fenerbahce finished the game on a 12-2 run to make the final a respectable-looking 90-79 score. Spartak controlled the game from the start, leading by 17 after one quarter. Diana Taurasi was terrific for Spartak, scoring 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Sylvia Fowles added 18 points and 12 boards and Sue Bird was the third Spartak player to reach double-figures, knocking down a pair of three-pointers and scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting with four assists. For Fenerbahce, Nicole Powell scored 18 of her 25 points beyond the arc (making six threes in nine tries) and Nevriye Yilmaz added 22 points.
Wisla had a much tougher time against Frisco Sika Brno and trailed by 10 late in the third quarter before erasing the deficit with a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter. Wisla held on to its slim lead by holding Brno scoreless in the game’s final 2:26, with Janell Burse’s bucket at the 16-second mark the only points in that period, leaving Wisla 78-74 winners. Along with Iziane Castro Marques and Ewelina Kobryn, Burse was one of three Wisla players to score 18 points. She filled out her box score with 12 rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots in a phenomenal all-around performance. Burse outplayed counterpart Taj McWilliams, who had eight points and 10 boards.
For Le’coe Willingham and Halcon Avenida, Game 1 of their Spanish showdown with Ros Casares Valencia was not as successful. Riding 13 points from Belinda Snell in the first quarter, Ros Casares got off to a fast start and never looked back in a 74-50 win over Avenida. Willingham had a strong outing, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting and eight rebounds. As a team, Avenida shot just 34.5 percent from the field in the loss. Snell finished with 21 points.
The action will shift locations as the lower-seeded teams host Game 2s on Friday.
Playoff action also continued Monday in Israel, where Ashley Walker and Maccabi Ashdod finished off a three-game sweep of Raanana Hertzeliya with a 95-69 Game 3 victory. Walker led the way with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 10 rebounds and six of the team’s 24 assists. Ashdod is still awaiting a semifinal opponent, since all three other series are 2-1 right now. That includes Camille Little and Maccabi Ramat Han trailing Elizur Maccabi Natanya after falling on the road 83-71 on Monday. Little had 26 points and nine boards in a losing effort. Ramat Hen will try to stay alive at home on Thursday in Game 4.
A heartbreaker in China, where Guangdong Asia Aluminum lost Game 1 of its series with the Shenyang Army 83-82 earlier today. Swin Cash had a chance to win the game, but missed at the buzzer. Cash was a big reason why Guangdong was in position to win, scoring 20 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out five assists. Game 2 of the series will be Friday.
Chelsea Newton has a new (old) teammate with Liomatic Umbertide – Ticha Penicheiro, her backcourt-mate for the better part of the last five years in Sacramento, including during the Monarchs run to the 2005 WNBA championship. Penicheiro’s arrival wasn’t enough to snap an Umbertide losing streak (now at four games) in her debut, a 73-68 loss to Erg Power & Gas Priolo. Penicheiro had five points and five assists, while Newton scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out three assists.