Monday, April 13, 2009

Gearlds, Athinaikos Finish Unbeaten

Congrats to Katie Gearlds. The Storm forward and her Athinaikos teammates completed a perfect 26-0 season in Greek A1 League play by beating Panathinaikos 78-68 over the weekend. Gearlds went out in style, scoring a game-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. She added six rebounds and five assists as well.

Athinaikos had previously secured the Greek title, holding a two-game lead on second-place Esperides Ravenna - both of whose losses came to Athinaikos. According to a translation of the Athinaikos Web site, "The time of the coronation had everything: Fireworks, confetti, champagne, "OLE", clapping and emotion." I'm sure Gearlds will have more details in a wrap-up of her overseas blog at some point in the near future.

While the season winds down, the action is just heating up in the Russian Superleague Playoffs. Semifinals started Sunday with CSKA Moscow surprising Spartak in Vidnoe, 84-70. Looking to reverse a disappointing season, CSKA was on fire offensively, shooting 58 percent from the field and from downtown. Ann Wauters had 19 points and 10 boards to lead five players in double-figures. None of Spartak's stars had a big game. Sue Bird contributed six points and seven assists, while Lauren Jackson finished with 10 points. Euroleague Final Four hero Diana Taurasi was limited to 6-of-15 from the field, scoring 16 points.

Dynamo Moscow had an even rougher time of it in Game 1 at UMMC Ekaterinburg. Top-seeded Ekaterinburg rolled up 95 points, with Penny Taylor scoring 19 on cool 9-of-11 shooting. Janell Burse had 13 points and seven boards, outplaying Maria Stepanova, but did not get enough help. Belinda Snell (19) was the only Dynamo player to score double-figures with Anete Jekabsone-Zogota out of the lineup.

Playoffs started today in Italy, with Cras Basket Taranto blowing out Pool Comense 81-46 in Game 1. Suzy Batkovic scored 11 points, one of five Taranto players in double figures. Megan Mahoney paced Taranto with 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Batkovic and company will go on the road for Tuesday's Game 2 looking for a sweep.

This was the final weekend of the regular season in Spain. With a 69-63 loss to Olesa-Espanyol, Ibiza-PDV finished 14-12 and in seventh place. Shannon Johnson had four points in the loss, shooting 2-for-10 from the field in a tough outing. Ibiza will now take on Joventut Mariana in the 5th-8th playoffs (with EuroCup spots on the line for winners of these matchups). The series start on Saturday.

With Saturday's 86-62 win over Clermont-Farrand (.pdf), Tarbes set up a showdown with traditional power Bourges on Wednesday with the regular-season LFB title on the line. Both teams are 24-1. On Saturday, Tarbes needed Tanisha Wright for just 18 minutes in the lopsided victory. She had four points and three assists.

Lastly, a note from Ireland, where her UL Aughnish squad passes along that the Storm's Kristen O'Neill was awarded "Overseas Player of the Year." O'Neill's top competition for the award might have been Mel Thomas, who will join her in training camp with the Storm.

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