Thursday, March 13, 2008

Continent Takes Euroleague All-Star Game

On paper, the Rest of the World team had a clear advantage over the Europe squad in Thursday's Euroleague All-Star Game, played in Vidnoje, Russia, the home of Sue Bird's and Lauren Jackson's Russian squad, Spartak Moscow.

In addition to Bird and Jackson, the Rest of the World boasted six WNBA All-Stars headlined by Chamique Holdsclaw, Cappie Pondexter, Nykesha Sales and Diana Taurasi. Europe had stars in its own right, including new Russian citizen Becky Hammon, but most of the roster consisted of players, like Maria Stepanova and Ann Wauters, who have forsaken the chance to play key roles in the WNBA in favor of taking a break after their seasons in Europe.

Despite the potential talent disadvantage, the night belonged to the European squad, which took a 12-point lead by halftime and cruised to a 111-86 victory. Amaya Valdemoro led all scorers with 25 points to earn MVP honors, while Hammon scored 17 points and Stepanova controlled the paint with 16 points and 14 boards.

The Rest of the World got big nights from Pondexter (24 points on 10-of-15 shooting) and DeLisha Milton-Jones (18 points on 9-of-12), but had just those two players score double-figures. The Storm's All-Stars had relatively quiet nights. Bird was scoreless in 12 minutes of action, picking up two steals. Jackson started and finished with five points and six rebounds, handing out two assists and blocking two shots.

Storm CEO Karen Byant, along with Head Coach Brian Agler, is in Russia and attended the game. Look for more of the color in her post-game blog coming soon.

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