Because Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson have yet to join the team, we haven’t been following Sparta&K Moscow Region’s results thus far in Russian SuperLeague play. Today’s Euroleague opener, however, demands consideration. Sparta&K was upset 81-79 by Lithuanian club VICI Aistes, snapping a winning streak that dated back to February 2009.
Sparta&K, fell behind by 15 points at halftime. Irina Osipova and Epiphanny Prince (22 points, five assists) helped lead a second-half comeback that actually gave Sparta&K a lead in the final minute. However, Ausra Bimbaite came up with a three-pointer to tie the game and a two-pointer to win it at the buzzer. Bimbaite, who averaged 5.0 points per game during her last Euroleague season (2008-09) scored 26 points, one shy of her Euroleague career high, on 9-of-16 shooting.
While it may not ultimately make much of a difference, the loss was not an ideal way for Sparta&K to begin its pursuit of a fifth consecutive Euroleague title. In years past, Sparta&K has been able to survive late arrivals by star players because of the team’s depth. That may be a little more challenging this time around, though Jackson should join the team soon.