Ros Casares wins debut Euroleague Women title
ISTANBUL-Hürriyet Daily News
Ros Casares. AA photoRos Casares has been crowned as the European champion after an all-Spanish Euroleague Women Final, on a weekend that ended in disappointment for Turkish teams Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe.
The star-studded Ros Casares side beat Rivas Ecopolis 65-52 on April 1 in the deciding match of the EuroLeague Women Final Eight at the Abdi İpekçi Arena in Istanbul. Fenerbahçe finished fourth after losing to UMMC Ekaterinburg 75-68, while host team Galatasaray ended fifth with a dramatic win over Spartak Moscow.
Ros Casares, which boasts a strong squad including Ann Wauters, Sancho Lyttle and Lauren Jackson, landed its historic first Euroleague Women title after overpowering Rivas in Istanbul, as its domestic rivals suffered a major second-half drought.
Rivas forward Asjha Jones was named the Final Eight’s Most Valuable Player after averaging a magnificent tournament double-double of 20.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game and shooting 60.4% from the floor. However, Jones could not prevent defeat in the final. Successive baskets by Wauters allowed Ros to destroy that game plan when she put her team ahead 12-6, but Rivas hung in and stayed strong, looking set to cause yet another shock.
The game was still locked at 28-2 with five minutes to go until half-time, when veteran guard Elisa Aguilar scored back-to-back baskets to put Rivas in front 34-28. She also helped her team maintain their advantage at the interval by providing an exquisite assist for Laura Nicholls who made it 37-33 going into the second half.
Sylvia Dominguez was the key player for Ros, although she was in danger of being outshone by another buoyant performance by Aguilar, who made a triple to put Rivas ahead 48-43. But Lyttle stepped up to really get Ros rolling as they finished the third quarter with eight unanswered points, six of which were from Lyttle.
Trailing 51-48 and having not scored a basket in five minutes, it was who else but Jones who got the scoreboard ticking again for Rivas as the fourth period got underway. However, they would score only one further basket during the remainder of the game, and Ros took maximum advantage as they pulled away and coasted to the title -- one which they take from their arch-rivals Perfumerias Avenida.
Earlier, a double-double by Candace Parker fired UMMC Ekaterinburg to its fifth successive third-place finish in the Euroleague Women after their win over Fenerbahçe. After trailing 42-34 behind at the end of the first half, Fenerbahçe managed to take the lead at 53-52, at the end of the third quarter.
The last period was just as intense, with both teams trying to break the game open. Neither could manage it until the last 90 seconds when Candace Parker, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, scored successive baskets to help seal the deal.
In the fifth-place playoff, Galatasaray managed to end the tournament on a high note, as superstar guard Diana Taurasi poured in 25 points, and Ivanka Matic and Işıl Alben each scored 14 points. Galatasaray lost its bid to advance to the final after losing its two opening games in the competition, but recovered somewhat with back-to-back victories.