Second semifinal will feature a traditional power versus ambitious newcomer as the two time EWBL champion TTT Rīga will face Russian Premier league semifinalist Nika Syktyvkar.
Quick facts: TTT finished the quarterfinal series against SBŠ Ostrava on March 3, by scoring 89 points in back-to-back games. Nika Syktyvkar duel against Pieštanske Čajky was cancelled after new restrictions in Slovakia came into effect. A year earlier Komi region team lost the quarterfinal series against Tsmoki Minsk, 128-145.
What`s at stake
TTT return to the Final Four after a one year hiatus and is eying the fifth consecutive final. April 2021 is the biggest month in Nika`s history – a team led by Alexander Vasin is eyeing two medal finishes in two different competitions.
Douglas Women`s Baltic Basketball league was suspended in October 2020. TTT hasn`t played a single game against Lithuanian and Estonian teams since then. Riga instead played a 16 game regular season in a Latvian league and has a 15-0 record, as of April 1.
Latvian league has a new format. Fifteen teams are split into groups A and B. The best three teams from group A will qualify for the Final 4, while the fourth and the fifth team will play in the First 4 tournament together with the Top 2 teams from group B. The First 4 is set on April 17-18, while the Final 4 will take place on April 24-25.
Nika Syktyvkar finished fifth in the Russian Premier league regular season. Komi team faced the EuroLeague Women side Nadezhda Orenburg in the best-of-three quarterfinals. Nika won the first game at home, lost the second encounter at Orenburg and, finally, added a famous 60-59 win on the road to force a sensational 2-1 upset.
Nadezhda finished the season without a medal for the first time in 12 years. Meanwhile, Nika will face a Russian giant UMMC in the best-of-three semifinal series. The first game is scheduled on April 6 at Yekaterinburg. The second game will follow on April 10 at Syktyvkar.
Big lineup, big expectations
Two Nika players received invitations to the Women`s EuroBasket 2021 qualifying games against Estonia and Switzerland – guard Ekaterina Fedorenkova and forward Alexandra Marchenkova. Marchenkova made her National team debut on February 4 against Estonia, while Fedorenkova played two days later against Switzerland.
Nika also added three Americans, including Notre Dame guard Lindsay Allen, North Carolina State standout and a 2019 WNBA champion Kiara Leslie plus a 2018 NCAA champion from Notre Dame – power forward Brianne Turner.
Alexander Vasin led Russia at EuroBasket Women 2017 in the Czech Republic. Small forward Maria Cherepanova also played for the National team back then, while point guard Tatyana Burik won the gold medal at the 2006 European U20 championship.
The six players mentioned above – except Allen – scored 57 of 60 points in the third game against Nadezhda. Marchenkova had 22 points and eight rebounds. Turner registered a double-double – 10 points and 12 rebounds. Washington Mystics star also had three steals and two blocked shots, while Cherepanova chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds.
Two Riga players left the team after an early exit from the EuroLeague Women – power forward Taisiia Udodenko and forward Kitija Laksa. Veteran forward Gunta Baško has returned instead to play for TTT. A 2005 born guard Raina Tomašicka joined the team a few weeks earlier. The biggest challenge – a limited front court rotation after departure of Udodenko.
Your time, as of April 3: Kyiv 13:00=Minsk 13:00=Moscow 13:00=Syktyvkar 13:00=Riga 13:00=Central European time 12:00=Košice 12:00=Brno 12:00
Saturday, April 3, semifinals
13:00 Prometey Kamianske – Horizont Minsk
15:45 TTT Rīga – Nika Syktyvkar
Sunday, April 4, medal games
11:00 Bronze medal game
15:30 Award ceremony
(A1) Prometey – Kibirkštis MRU (B4)
March 14, game one, Kamianske: 87-59
March 15, game two, Kamianske: 71-58
Prometey wins the series: 158-117
(A2) Pieštanske Čajky – Nika Syktyvkar (B3)
Canceled due to new restrictions in Slovakia
Nika Syktyvkar advances
(A3) Young Angels – Horizont Minsk (B2)
Canceled due to new restrictions in Slovakia
Horizont Minsk advances
(A4) SBŠ Ostrava – TTT Rīga (B1)
March 2, game one, Riga: 57-89
March 3, game two, Riga: 55-89
Rīga wins the series: 112-178
Final Four experience
TTT Rīga: 2016-2019, 2021
Horizont: 2021 NEW
Prometey: 2021 NEW
Nika Syktyvkar: 2021 NEW
THE PLAYOFFS 2020
(A1) Žabiny Brno 153-92 SBŠ Ostrava (B4)
(A2) Pieštanske Čajky 155-126 Rostov Don SFEDU (B3)
(A3) Nika Syktyvkar 128-145 Tsmoki Minsk (B2)
(A4) Orange Lions 133-167 Dynamo Novosibirsk (B1)
THE PLAYOFFS 2019
(A1) Tsmoki Minsk 122-107 Pieštanske Čajky (B4)
(A2) A3 Basket 143-159 Žabiny Brno (B3)
(A3) Rostov Don SFEDU 177-166 Lulea Basket (B2)
(A4) Olimpia Grodno 121-188 TTT Rīga (B1)
THE PLAYOFFS 2018
(A1) Good Angels 151-107 Pieštanske Čajky (B4)
(A2) Al Riyadi 123-144 Dynamo Moscow (B3)
(A3) Lulea Basket 172-173 Udominate (B2)
(A4) Liepājas Papīrs 108-179 TTT Rīga (B1)
Final Four history
Rīga 2016: TTT Rīga, Basket 90 Gdynia, Astana Tigers, Tsmoki Minsk
Košice 2017: Good Angels Košice, TTT Rīga, Dynamo Moscow, Basket 90 Gdynia
Rīga 2018: Good Angels Košice, TTT Rīga, Dynamo Moscow, Udominate Basket
Rostov on Don 2019: TTT Rīga, Tsmoki Minsk, Rostov Don SFEDU, Žabiny Brno
Brno 2020: season five cancelled due to pandemic (Žabiny Brno-Tsmoki, Novosibirsk-Pieštany)
Playoffs: March 2-16, 2021; best-of-two
A1 – B4, A2 – B3, B2 – A3, B1 – A4
Final Four: April 3-4, 2021
EWBL member countries so far: Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Turkey.
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