The Euroleague playoffs kicked off today with all Storm eyes on the matchup between Spartak Moscow Region and ZVVZ USK Praha, featuring Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson squaring off with teammate Swin Cash.
Spartak, the two-time defending Euroleague champs, is heavily favored but USK Praha was able to keep things close on the road in Game 1. The margin was nine at halftime and eight late in the third quarter before Spartak pulled away to win 102-86.
Spartak got a combined 75 points from its three leading scorers – Sylvia Fowles (27 points, 11 rebounds), Jackson (25 points and 14 boards) and Diana Taurasi (23). Jackson had a tough time inside the arc, missing 13 of her 17 two-point attempts, but knocked down a trio of three-pointers and was 8-of-10 at the free-throw line. Bird played her customary role leading the Spartak attack, finishing with 13 points, five assists and three three-pointers.
Cash had 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists for USK Praha, but the Spartak D pressured her into seven turnovers. Praha got big scoring efforts from Evanthia Maltsi (27 points) and Lindsay Whalen (20 points, eight boards, five assists). Despite the best efforts of Cash and Whalen from the perimeter, USK Praha was beaten badly on the defensive glass, surrendering 20 offensive boards – seven by Jackson and five from Fowles.
Spartak will try to close out the best-of-three series on Friday, when the action shifts to Prague for Game 2.