Union Hainaut starting EuroLeague Women 2008-2009 with a victory
The first EuroLeague Women match for Union Hainaut Basket ended with a convincing victory.
For the first time this season the supporters of USVO have not had to wait until the last minutes to know that their side would win.
If the first 90 seconds and the last three minutes of the game were to be removed it can be safely said that UHB dominated the game and were never in trouble.
Fabrice Courcier, UHB’s head coach, was able to change players, changes that you would not have noticed.
However Kathy Wambe’s injection of pace during the first period was the catalyst the team required.
With the exception of Mélanie Plust who is making her way back from injury everybody on the roster played for a minimum of 10 minutes and scored at least 4 points.
It is really difficult to pinpoint what went wrong for ZVVZ USK Prague in this EuroLeague Women match. They started well. Yet nothing should be taken away from the UHB performance.
Laetitia Kamba (right) is not known for her three-point shooting ability. Still you see her taking a shot from the top of the key with confidence. This was enough to say that Union Hainaut Basket was sure to win the game.
After the match Courcier explained that it was nice when everything worked like in this game. He added that the players had grown together as a group.
Maybe for the first time this season the team had displayed this in a match. Furthermore once players like Kathy Wambe set the pace, small things started to work and everybody got confident.
You can listen to some extracts of his comments in French as well as those from Wambe and Kamba after the match report. For English speakers we managed to talk to to Swedish international Chioma Nnamaka.
The visitors of ZVVZ USK Praha quickly settled into their rhythm and scored the first points after a Evanthia Maltsi shot rimmed out. Then the ball fell into the hands of Michaela Ferancikova who required two efforts to score.
Sandra Le Dréan and Sonja Kireta followed this up with back to back baskets (6-0).
Fabrice Courcier called an early time-out after 1:26 played on the game clock just after his team turned the ball over for the third time.
Whatever he said got Tiffany Stansbury fired up as she went to battle with Kireta at both end of the court and finally opened the scoring for the hosts.
UHB started to take control of the game with Vedrana Fonseca hitting a base- line jumper three-pointer. This was quickly followed by a steal and lay-up by Kathy Wambe as the hosts went in front (7-6).
ZVVZ USK struggled for the rest of the quarter as Chioma Nnamaka and Sabrina Reghaïssia started to hit their shots.
With Wambe conducting the play UHB stretched their lead from (11-8) to (26-13) by the end of the first period.
UHB continued to dominate early on as Laëtitia Kamba and Nnamaka were allowed by their guests to run riot.
By the time Bernie Mudju N'Goyisa lost her marker in the paint with a reverse spin lay-up UHB had doubled their advantage (34-17).
Hence the Prague coach Lubor Blazek called for a time-out.
UHB appeared to be cruising. It was the turn of Bintou Dieme to take charge of the plays for UHB as they extended their lead (42-19).
Blazek decided to use a zone defense, which was immediately effective as UHB stopped scoring. At the same time UHB started to be less attentive in defending which allowed Maltsi to start scoring from behind the arc. The guests reduced their deficit (29-44).
Nnamaka was called back into action for UHB. Her energy rejuvenated her side with first Sabrina Palie concluded a fast break to score her first points of the game. Then Reghaïssia hit a buzzer-beater trey to finish the first half.
UHB went into the locker room leading (49-30) with all the players, who had entered the court, on the score sheet.
Nnamaka opened the scoring in the third period with a three-pointer as she was left open at the top of the key. The pace of the game slowed down which suited the guests as they started to reduce their deficit with Lindsay Whalen starting to find her way to the basket.
However a second trey by Nnamaka kept the hosts in control (56-36). Wambe continued to run the plays with UHB going 21 points up (61-40) while she completed a 3-point play (2+1).
The game lost its intensity as UHB went into the final period leading (64-40).
The visitors came out for the last quarter more fired up and Le Dréan opened the scoring. However Palie made sure that UHB maintained a 20-point lead.
Kamba hit a trey to extend the advantage to 23 points. Yet scores by Lindsay Whelan and a baseline trey by Maltsi reduced the deficit to 20 points (54-74).
The game as a contest was over by the time Katerina Elhotova came back on for the visitors and Melanie Plust made her début with UHB leading (78-54).
The game fizzled out with UHB winning (78-62) despite a late flourish by the guests.
For Union Hainaut Basket Nnamaka lead the scoring with 12 points and was joined in double figures by Reghaïssia and Wambe on 11 points apiece.
Kireta was the leading scorer with 16 points for the visitors. Maltsi and Whalen also finished in double digits with 15 and 11 points respectively.
All the EuroLeague Women match interviews with the exception of Chioma Nnamaka are in French.
Fabrice Courcier, the Union Basket head coach, explained that the players were able to adapt when required. But the key for the team was them better defending than their opponents. He added that his team was more athletic and that they could play a certain style which was more interactive.
Chioma Nnamaka praised her team mates for the way they had played, especially in defense. She said that they played team basketball. She had been excited for her first game in the EuroLeague Women and she was enjoying this type of basketball.
Laetitia Kamba stressed again that it was a good team performance. The result of this match was thanks to all their training. As for the three-pointer she admitted it was not planned. But when the chance came she went for it. She was happy that it went in as she was not taking three-pointers very often.
Kathy Wambe (right in picture) said that she was very happy with her game. She was getting back to her best while she thought that the opponents did not play up to their potentials, which was good for them.
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