Incredible overall performance leads to win against Bourges
Even though we had secured our second spot in the group already before the game the team gave its all and came away with the victory in a classic nail-biter in the last round of the regular season of Euroleague.
Bourges Basket: Palau 2, Johannes 13/3, Ayayi 4, Godin 2, Tchatchouang 15/3 Sub.: Hamblin 6, Sharp 5/3, Michel 3
FGS: 21/52 40% ill. 22/54 41%
3-PTS: 1/12 8% ill. 3/16 19%
FTS: 14/18 78% ill. 3/6 50%
Rebounds: 38 (Jovanovic 10) ill. 26 (Hamblin 7)
Assists: 17 (Crvendakic 5) ill. 14 (Palau 4)
Steals: 7 ill. 9 (Palau 3)
Turnovers: 19 ill. 18
Blocks: 3 (Határ 2) ill. 0
Faults: 12 ill. 19
Eff: 63 (Langhorne 21) ill. 46 (Tchatchouang 16)
Tchatchouang gave the early lead to the guests with her first basket of the game, and after that Bourges was able to hold on to a single-possession lead for five minutes, when we finally caught up with them and even turned the game our way after two free throws put away by Crystal (5th minute 7-6). Then came a period when we managed to hold Bourges off for some minutes, but they eventually turned the game their way again with one minute on the clock, which made head coach Roberto Iniguez call his first time-out in the game (9th minute 11-12). No baskets were made until the end of the period, so the first one ended with Bourges being in a tight lead (10th minute 11-12).
The second quarter began with our post players continuing where they left off in the first, but the guests weren't short of talent either, so even though we were ahead almost the entire quarter, we couldn't pull away from them. Crystal and Tina were battling with Johannes and Tchatchouang in this period, and we were able to build up a two-possession advantage before half time (20th minute 30-26).
In the third quarter Yvonne joined Tina and Crystal in putting up points on the board, when she made a spectacular three to quickly cool down Bourges after they've come back to a two-point deficit. In the following minutes we gradually built up a solid-looking advantage, when the difference finally reached double digits with Angela's lay-up after a steal forcing an away time-out (28th minute 46-35). Bourges rang the alarm and scored twice unanswered but then Johannes got a technical fouled called on herself, and we took advantage of it: Yvonne scored from the line, and from the possession afterwards Tina made a double. The last say was our guests, though: Sharp reduced the gap back down to ten points with a buzzer-beating triple (30th minute 52-42).
The last period brought some serious defensive showcase from both teams. Unfortunately for us, Bourges performed better, and made a 6-0 run to start the final quarter, but scoring three times took them five minutes as well. Coach Iniguez thought he had seen enough and called his team to the bench to talk it over (35th minute 52-48). After the short pause Yvonne finally put away our first basket of the quarter. Tchatchouang answered with a double two minutes later, and until the final 40 seconds or so that was it. Then came Zsófi and Crystal from the line, and they made three of the four penalty shots awarded, which meant that we have closed the Euroleague regular season with our 10th victory this season setting a new team record (40th minute 57-50).
Roberto Iniguez: I am very happy! This was a tough game. It isn't easy to play knowing that the outcome of the game doesn't count anywhere, but I am happy that the girls gave their all anyway! We have won against a very good team, who have lost only one game since our first match in France, the one against Kursk. Ut is an organized team lead by an experienced point guard, Laia Palau, who is a great fighter, a true role model for the kids! Our next game on Saturday will be the hardest so far, where we have to play our last game before the national team break after these tiring weeks with the same mentality we did today!
Tina Jovanovic: Congratulations to the whole team and the staff for their performance in the regular season! I am happy we could close the group with a win. Now we can rest for a while, and then start getting ready for the playoffs. Bourges did a great job today, especially on defense, and this is why this win is so valuable!
Olivier Lafargue: We had 18 turnovers and allowed 12 offensive rebounds today, which is too much against a team like Sopron! I am happy about our defense, there was only a two-minute period when we let them run away. Unfortunately rhiht after my time-out, so I am sad about that. We should have played smarter in some situations. We are getting ready for the next game!
Laia Palau: Both teams faced this game with a secure spot in the play-offs, and now I know why Sopron is at the second place. It is because even in these circumstances they managed to stay focused and they won when they didn't even need this game for reaching a better position. Congratulations to them for their overall performance in the regular season! We have a difficult month behind us, we had to fit new players in the team, we traveled and played a lot. There are things that we can still make better, and the most important games come at the end of the season. I hope we will be ready for them!