The Euroleague postseason kicked off yesterday as teams played Game 1 of their best-of-three eighth-final series. All three teams with Storm ties moved halfway to the quarterfinals by winning the opener at home.
Ros Casares Valencia had the easiest time of things, swamping MKB Euroleasing Sopron 84-56. Ros Casares led by just six at the break before outscoring Sopron 40-18 in a dominant second half. Ros Casares was excellent on defense, holding Sopron to 35.8 percent shooting and forcing 20 turnovers. The Spanish team really clamped down on 2010 Storm draft pick Tijana Krivacevic, who missed all seven of her shot attempts. The offense was supplied by the trio of Rebekkah Brunson and Edwige Lawson (16 points apiece) and Katie Douglas (15). Jana Vesela started and played a team-high 31 minutes, finishing with six points and six rebounds.
UMMC Ekaterinburg needed a fourth-quarter comeback to edge Rivas Ecopolis. Down 50-47 in the fourth quarter, Ekaterinburg scored 10 unanswered points. Rivas Ecopolis still closed within two points on a DeWanna Bonner and-one with 2:50 to play, but would not score again as Ekaterinburg hung on for the 63-58 win. On a night when stars Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter struggled, Sandrine Gruda stepped up to score a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting with eight rebounds. Svetlana Abrosimova was big off the bench, contributing nine points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Bonner had 19 points and nine boards.
Meanwhile, Sparta&K Moscow Region came back against longer odds after trailing 52-45 at the start of the final period. Sparta&K dominated the last 10 minutes, outscoring Beretta-Famila Schio 20-8 to win 65-60. Sue Bird had assists on back-to-back Sonja Petrovic scores in the final two minutes to salt the game away. She handed out seven total assists to go with 10 points. Jelena Milovanovic scored 23 points and Epiphanny Prince 16 for Spartak. Liron Cohen scored 18 points and Janel McCarville had a big double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) for Schio.
The three teams will head out on the road looking for a sweep on Friday in Game 2 of the series.