Bragging rights and much more are on the line as Storm centers Suzy Batkovic and Janell Burse square off with their respective teams in the EuroCup semifinals. In Thursday’s first game, Batkovic’s host Taranto squad emerged with a 76-71 victory. Because of the aggregate scoring format, the outcome itself was not necessarily as critical as the differential, with teams playing through to the end of regulation. Michelle Greco scored with two seconds on the clock to provide the final margin and give Taranto an extra bucket’s worth of breathing room going into the return leg in Moscow next Thursday.
It looked for a while like Dynamo might head home with the advantage. A Burse jumper midway through the fourth quarter gave Dynamo a four-point advantage, but Taranto would outscore the visitors 15-6 the rest of the way. The key was Greco, the former Storm guard who scored eight points in that span, adding three steals and an assist.
Burse scored 14 of her 17 points after halftime, adding nine rebounds. She was part of a trio of Dynamo players, along with Belinda Snell (23 points) and Anete Jekabsone-Zogota (15) who had strong games. The rest of the team, however, combined for 16 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field.
Taranto got more balanced production, with four players scoring double-figures. Megan Mahoney led the way with 19 points, with Batkovic adding 13 points, six rebounds and three steals.
In Thursday’s other semifinal opener, Kursk Dynamo triumphed 61-47 at home over Galatsaray. The two-game aggregate series will be completed next Thursday, with the winners advancing to meet each other wih the EuroCup championship – and a spot in Euroleague for the 2009-10 season – on the line.