The first Quarter-Final match ended in Ekaterinburg with all Arena shouting out loud «Hundred points! Hundred points». Some expected it to be a tough battle; however, UMMC faced no serious opposition and strode its way past Prague- 97:70.
After that match, ZVVZ USK Praha Head Coach Natalia Hejkova resumed:
- It is play off and now the score is 1:0 for Ekaterinburg. However, we will try hard to show our best game at home. We will try to win at home and come back here for the final round. I know that these are only words, however if you try hard enough sometimes words come true.
Natalia Hejkova’s words did came true, but only in parts. There was no doubt that at home USK Praha showed great game; however, it was not enough to stretch the series for 3 matches. The opponents were full of desire for revenge, but had nothing else that was able to change game one scenario. Miguel Mendez’s team once again outplayed the opponent in almost all game components with the only exception of free throws realization percentage.
In Prague, the hosts gave the game two a hot start. So, most part of the first quarter the teams were riding up and down on the swing with the scoreboard showing even figures for 7 times during the period. Only in the very end, Amanda Zahui brought her team on top - 20:18. Evgenia Belyakova had an opportunity to answer from the free throw line, however after 2 attempts she came up only with only one point - 20:19.
In the second quarter, Evgenia improved her sniper’s skills and both shots went down the home side hoop. UMMC captured the leadership and never gave it back all the way to the game end. Precise shots by Maya Moore and Emma Meesseman strengthened the visiting side positions and with one minute before the half-time Alba Torrens added few more points for UMMC on the scoreboard - 38:32.
Foxes won the third quarter with almost double-figure advantage, prevailing almost all over the floor and depriving the Prague team leaders of any opportunities to score. Thus, the home side scored only 8 points with half of points coming up after penalty shots.
The final period started with massive attacks from both sides. Katerina Elhotova came up with 2 points, while Alba Torrens answered with a triple. One more downtown attempt by Marta Xargay was evened by 2 points from Bittney Griner - 58:45. Hyperactive Maya Moore erupted with 4 points in a row, Alba Torrens made another successful shot thus extending UMMC lead up to 22 points - 67:45.
Miguel Mendez was able to enact almost the whole bench and Raisa Musina as well as Nika Baric made their contribution - 72:50. Belyakova made one more successful free throw and UMMC reached game-high advantage of 23 points - 73:50. After that, the Ural team did not score a single point for almost 3 minutes. Nevertheless, USK had no real chances to overturn the game. The Foxes ran out of gas in offense and focused on defense. Neither precise free throws by Marija Rezan, nor successful shooting by Leticia Romero in the end of the match were able to change the outcome of game two of the Quarter-Final series. UMMC once again celebrated a confident win after a tough hard-fought battle - 73:54.
Our team won the Quarter-Final series with 2:0 result and for the 11th time in a row punched its ticket to the EuroLeague Women Final Four. On April 20 in the Semi-Final round, UMMC will face the opponents from Dynamo Kursk.
Emma Meesseman starred with a double-double of 17 points and 11 boards. Brittney Griner played a good game and scored 15 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, Maya Moore added 13 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, while Alba Torrens came up with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
ZVVZ USK Praha point guard Marta Xargay brought the home side 13 points.
UMMC center Emma Meesseman:
- It is obviously a good win for us. We do not have to play a third game so we can go on and focus now on the Final Four. We had some really good stretches during the game and showed nice team play. And, when shots didn't go in, we showed that we're capable of keeping on fighting in defense.
UMMC Head Coach Miguel Mendez:
- I am very proud of my players. We are glad to reach the first major goal for the season. We qualified to the EuroLeague Women Final Four. It was not an easy game for us because USK Praha played with a big heart and full of true dedication. They came out ready for the battle so we had to fight back. We missed many open shots in the beginning of the game and got nervous about it. However, we showed our temper and added aggressive notes to win this ball. I am grateful to my players and I also would like to appreciate the club for this opportunity to play in my first Final Four.
UMMC is having the next Premier-League match on March 11 in Ekaterinburg against Dynamo Moscow. The game starts at 17:00.