Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Russian Finals Set

Spartak swept its way into the Russian Superleague Finals Tuesday, beating Vologda-Chevakata 82-56 in Game 2 of their best-of-three series. Lauren Jackson led the way with 17 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Sue Bird handed out four assists and hit a three for her only score.

CSKA Moscow will meet Spartak in the Finals coming off of a very impressive sweep of a tough UMMC Ekaterinburg squad. CSKA won 93-70 in Ekaterinburg Tuesday, with Amaya Valdemoro's 21 points leading five CSKA players with 13 or more.

CSKA has WNBA star Becky Hammon and new Silver Stars teammate Ann Wauters as well as another recent San Antonio signee, former Storm guard Edwige Lawson-Wade. Valdemoro and Maria Stepanova, two of the world's best players who have opted to pass on the WNBA in recent seasons, are joined by Russian Ilona Korstin amongst the six key CSKA players. This is an outstanding team that took Spartak to five games in the Finals a year ago.

The Finals schedule:
Game 1 - May 5 at Spartak
Game 2 - May 6 at Spartak
Game 3 - May 9 at CSKA
Game 4 - May 10 at CSKA (if necessary)
Game 5 - May 13 at Spartak (if necessary)

From the Storm's perspective, the big question is whether this series goes four games or five games. That's a three-day difference. Last year, it took two days for Bird and Jackson to get back to Seattle. That could put them back here as soon as Sunday, May 11, for a full week of practice before the opener. However, a five-game series would put them back Thursday, May 15 - just two days before the Storm plays Chicago on Opening Night.

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