Monday, April 20, 2009

Spartak Reaches Russian Finals

Saturday's deciding Game 3 of the Russian Superleague Semifinal series between Spartak and CSKA Moscow proved anticlimactic. Spartak finished the first half on a 16-3 run to take a 13-point advantage to the break and was never threatened thereafter in a comfortable 74-58 victory.

Spartak shined at the defensive end, holding CSKA to 36.1 percent shooting. Becky Hammon was held to five points on 2-for-8 shooting, while Ilona Korstin was 2-of-10 from the field. Lauren Jackson and Tatiana Schegoleva scored 16 points apiece to pace Spartak, Jackson shooting 6-of-7 from the field and Schegovela 6-for-9. Jackson added six rebounds in a strong 24-minute effort. Sue Bird had five points and five assists.

According to the RebKell reports, Jackson was so hot she literally shot the lights out. With the game already decided and the lights unwilling to return, the final moments of the game were apparently played in darkness.

Spartak, looking for a third straight Russian championship, will be the underdog in the best-of-three final series against UMMC Ekaterinburg. Game 1 will be played tomorrow in Ekaterinburg, with Spartak hosting Game 2 Saturday. If necessary, Game 2 will take place next Tuesday back in Ekaterinburg.

In Spain, the 5th-8th Playoffs kicked off over the weekend, with Ibiza-PDV earning an 89-71 Game 1 victory at Joventut Mariana. Shannon Johnson scored 27 points, but ended up overshadowed by a monster effort from Sancho Lyttle - 29 points and 21 rebounds. Ibiza outscored Joventut 24-10 in the fourth quarter to break open a tight game. Ibiza returns home to go for the sweep in Thursday's Game 2.

Before the French LFB moves into the postseason, Sunday marked the semifinals of the Coupe de France tournament. Tarbes reached the championship game with a 68-57 win over Aix-en-Provence (.pdf). Tanisha Wright had 16 points and five assists, while Isabelle Yacoubou scored 22 and had 19 boards.

Lastly this weekend, handed out 2008-09 EuroCup awards and honored Storm centers Janell Burse and Suzy Batkovic. Batkovic was picked to the All-EuroCup First Team at center, narrowly beating out Burse, who earned Second Team honors. Batkovic also made the "All-Import Team" for her work leading Cras Basket Taranto to the EuroCup Finals. (HT: StormFans from RebKell)

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