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Basketball - 28. January 2008.

The Faurie Files Take a deep breath

And the winners are...

The first round is over, and the Euroleague is off until the 5th of February. Day 10 of the competition delivered the last tickets to the next round. Villeneuve d'Ascq is the big winner of the day, with a victory of one point against Fenerbahce in their last chance. Meanwhile, Riga lost in Napoli, and went down to 5th place. On the eastern front, Gdynia beat Kosice to avoid Valencia in the eighth final.

But the most important lesson of these first three month is the Russian domination. It's not a surprise, but

Lauren Elizabeth Jackson (Spartak Moscow Region)
Lauren Jackson was spot on again for Spartak.
it's a painful confirmation for others. The worst any Russian club finished was second, with Dynamo Moscow, in group D. CSKA Moscow, Spartak and Ekaterinburg finish first, with just two defeats over 30 games.

The Four Russian Musketeer can now see off Salamanca, Villeneuve-d'Ascq, Vilnius and Gdynia to reach quarter final, where they'll have to fight between each other, as only two of them can appear in the Final Four. This is the only good new for opponents.

By the numbers

1
The worst total of victories goes to Namur. The Belgians were also last in offense (62.6 points per game) and defense (80.7 points allowed per game). CSKA Moscow finish first in scoring (89.1) and Ekaterinburg first in defense (60.6).

4
Victories for Italian clubs: two for Napoli and two for Faenza, who finished last in their groups.

10
CSKA Moscow and Valencia were perfect, the only two teams unbeaten after this first round. Last season, no team managed to finish unbeaten in their first ten games.

27
Last week, Jekabsone-Zogota and Augustus scored 47 of Dynamo Moscow's 75 points. This week, it was 54 of 90, with both the Latvian and the American contributing 27.

31
It must be Lauren Jackson's scoring column. The Aussies totalled 31 points against Valenciennes, strongly leading the top scorers. Her stats this week: nine of 12 on two-pointers, two of five on threes, six rebounds and four blocks. But... 1 turnover, again. Attention, Lauren. But I have a good news for Vilnius, in 8th final. The World Champion scored 34 in game eight, 33 in game nine and 31 in game 10. You don't see? It's decreasing.

Thumbs up

Ekaterinburg got a late Christmas present. Laurent Buffard convinced Caroline Aubert, Mondeville playmaker, to stay with his club till the end of the season. Aubert is leading the EuroLeague in assists (7.6 per game) and is in amazing form.

Thumbs down

Riga expected to reach the eighth final, but the slim victory of Villeneuve d'Ascq meant the Latvians needed a win in Napoli. They led 25-12 and 65-64 1:19 of the end, but lost by three points.

Quote

"We knew before the game that we'll play against the best team and Europe, and not only in Europe."

-Norbert Székely, Sopron Head Coach after his defeat in CSKA Moscow




The celebrating hasn't stopped, yet.

ESB Lille clinched their progression to the eighth-finals of the EuroLeague Women with a heart-stopping 60-59 win at home over Fenerbahce only on Wednesday evening.

The coach of the French outfit, Abdou N'Diaye, simply can't stop smiling.

Celine Dumerc (Bourges Basket)
Celine Dumerc and Bourges will join Lille in the next round.
"You have to believe in order to progress to the next round," N'Diaye said.

"I always said it, you have to get used to defeats. The only way to learn in the EuroLeague is to suffer."

Imagine how that self-belief must have wavered, though, for Lille, a team that had claimed just two victories before last week's nail-biting 82-79 overtime triumph against Phard Napoli.

This Lille team looked to have little chance of reaching the next stage. They had to beat Fener, and hope that Phard Napoli upset TTT Riga, which they did.

Fenerbahce are also one of the best teams in Europe with one of the best players in USA international point guard Cappie Pondexter.

Yet Lille managed to beat them as Kathy Wambe drove in for a game-winning lay-up at the death.

The reward is a best-of-three series against UMMC Ekaterinburg.

"It's magnificent what my girls have been doing lately," N'Diaye said.

"I don't know if many people realize it, but it's exceptional."

Phard Napoli know they have made new friends in France but are nevertheless sad to leave the competition.

Phard Napoli coach Nino Molino said: "Of course, it's a bit disappointing knowing that you have played against all rivals at the same level but we haven't collected as much as we deserved. We wanted to finish the EuroLeague Women with a good game."

ESB Lille Metropole were not the only French side partying on Wednesday.

Bourges also defeated Wisla Can-Pack Krakow 60-51 to seal second place in Group B.

Celine Dumerc, the France international guard, did not score for Bourges on the night but she played well in other areas.

"This is a big satisfaction to finish second place in the group," she said. "We had a wonderful comeback after our difficult start to the competition. We didn't play a great game against Wisla, but the important thing was to win and we succeeded."

That second-place finish means that Bourges have home court advantage in their eighth-finals series against MKB Euroleasing, while Wisla face the unenviable task of taking on Fenerbahce.

The Turkish team will host the first and, if necessary, third games of that tie.

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