Apologies for the lack of overseas updates. I spent the first part of the week out of town on a rare vacation and have been catching up ever since as we make our move to The Furtado Center. The big news I missed is that Spartak fell victim to an upset Wednesday at the hands of Lithuanian competitor TEO Vilnius. Spartak trailed 24-13 after one quarter and by 18 at the half. By the time Spartak mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback, it was too late. TEO Vilnius held on for the 72-64 win.
It was a rough night for several Spartak players, including Sue Bird, who shot 3-of-15 from the field. (She did have seven steals and eight points.) Lauren Jackson was limited to 12 minutes and did not score in her Euroleague debut. Sylvia Fowles (24 points, 11 boards) and Diana Taurasi (18 points) were the only Spartak players able to find a rhythm. The team shot 25.0 percent from downtown and really left a lot of points at the free-throw line, shooting a dismal 13-of-27 (48.1 percent). Vilnius got a dominant performance from Crystal Langhorne, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds.
The other Euroleague game with Storm ties saw ZVVZ USK Praha rebound from a poor Euroleague debut to come up with an impressive 87-72 win over Ros Casares in Prague. Swin Cash had six points in 12 productive minutes off the bench for USK Praha, which got 29 points from Evanthia Maltsi and saw Lindsay Whalen (nine points, 14 rebounds, seven assists) threaten a triple-double.
This week marked the tip off of play in the EuroCup. All four teams featuring Storm players were winners. Athinaikos survived a pair of late tying three attempts (one from Sheri Sam) to beat Greek rivals Panionios 62-59 behind six points and four boards from Katie Gearlds. Municipal Targoviste was no match for Dynamo Moscow in Dynamo’s 95-59 win Thursday, which featured 18 points and 15 boards from Janell Burse (as well as 29 from Marina Kuzina).
Also Thursday, Shyra Ely scored 15 points and grabbed 10 boards as K.V. Imperial AEL scored an impressive 70-53 home win over Cras Basket Taranto and familiar faces Suzy Batkovic and Michelle Greco. Ely was 6-of-10 from the field and added four steals. Lastly, Tarbes crushed Olivais Coimbra by a 102-59 final. Tarbes was able to rest its starters in the win. Tanisha Wright played just 15 minutes, finishing with six points and three assists.
To national league play from last weekend …
Kelly Santos‘ Cadi La Seu squad picked up its second straight win by a 70-65 final over Celta Undepo. Santos had 12 points and seven boards in the victory. Spartak had an easier time of it in the Russian Superleague against Slavianka, winning 115-43. Bird scored 12 points, while Jackson made her return from ankle surgery in style, posting 10 points and eight boards in 15 minutes of action. Dynamo crushed Dynamo-GUVD 102-57 as Burse had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Tarbes survived a scare from Lattes Montpellier to remain undefeated in the French LFB, winning 64-59. It was a nice balanced game for Wright, who had 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Tarbes and Bourges are the last two remaining undefeated teams in the LFB. In the Czech Republic, USK Praha blew out BK Tabor by a 111-51 final. In her best game of the year, Cash had 13 points and nine boards in an even 20 minutes.
Lastly, the Greek A1 league kicked off last weekend. Athinaikos defeated Aris Holargou 72-66 with Gearlds scoring 12 points.