The Russian Superleague Finals got under way with the first two games yesterday and today in Ekaterinburg. Sparta&K Moscow Region upset the hosts in the Euroleague Final Four earlier this month, but could not do the same in either of the first two games, falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-five series.
On Sunday, it was all UMMC Ekaterinburg in a 72-51 Game 1 triumph. Ekaterinburg blew the game open during the second quarter, extending its halftime lead to 16 points and never looking back. Sue Bird scored 10 points and handed out three assists, but Epiphanny Prince (12) was the only other Sparta&K player in double figures as the team shot 31 percent on two-point attempts and was dominated on the glass. Sandrine Gruda powered Ekaterinburg with 19 points and nine rebounds. Candace Parker added 16 points and six boards.
Sparta&K trailed by 14 points heading to the fourth quarter of today’s Game 2, but rallied to make things interesting before losing 61-56. It was a rough shooting night for several players, including Bird, who scored all four of her points (to go with as many assists) at the free throw line. Taj McWilliams kept Sparta&K in the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Irina Osipova had 13 boards as Sparta&K controlled the paint, holding Ekaterinburg’s offense in check. However, the deficit was too big for Sparta&K to make up before time ran out.
The series now heads to Vidnoe for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) on Thursday and Friday with Sparta& trying to force the series back to Ekaterinburg for a deciding Game 5.
On the other end of the continent, host Halcon Avenida toppled Ros Casares Valencia 79-73 in Sunday’s Game 1 of their best-of-three series. Erika De Souza was an unstoppable force in the paint, racking up 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting and pulling down 12 rebounds. De Souza also made 12 trips to the free throw line. Add in Alba Torrens (15 points, eight boards) and Sancho Lyttle (12 and seven) and the Avenida frontline combined for 56 points and 27 rebounds. Belinda Snell chipped in 10 points. Game 2 of the series will be played Thursday in Valencia.