History is full of unequal battles and the final of the women’s Euroleague could have been one more, but it was not because Perfumerías Avenida believed until almost the end (68-78). Yekaterinburg boasts one of the best centers on the planet, Brittney Griner (2.03), who forms a luxury couple with Jonquel Jones (1.98) and another with Maria Vadeeva (1.93), that this Sunday he didn’t even play. All of them, much higher than the roof of the Avenue, Katie Samuelson, with 1.92.
But the inequalities between the two do not end there. They say that the budget of the Russian giant is about 12 times greater than that of the Avenida. What’s more, two Yekaterinburg players earn more than the entire squad of the Salamanca team put together: Griner has a contract of 1.3 million and Breanna Stewart, of around a million. An unequal fight, but the feat got even bigger after Maite Cazorla twisted her ankle as soon as she jumped onto the court. Silvia Domínguez was left alone at the controls (Cazorla tried, but couldn’t take any more), with some specific help from Hayes and Leo Rodríguez.
El Avenida, who returned to a Final Four a decade after the 2011 title, dreamed of starring in his particular version of David vs. Goliath. And he succeeded … more or less. Those of Roberto Íñiguez left Yekaterinburg in 16 points in the initial round (he averaged 88.6 this season) with an initial set of 21-9 thanks to a very inspired Tiffany Hayes (11 points), to the continuous aid to get Griner out of the paint since the Perfumerías extracted oil with direct blockades.
But Yekaterinburg have only lost two games in more than three years (47-2 with Miguel Méndez on the bench). There must be a reason. Quigley, the best in the semifinals against Fenerbahçe (25 points), tied the match from triple (25-25). New game at 5:35 for half-time, with Avenida resisting until 29-29 (29-39 before the break).
The game went a bit crazy in the third quarter. Stewart put the +14 with a triple (41-55); It seemed that the title for Yekaterinburg was done, but Avenida got back into the meeting with Leo Rodríguez at the controls (53-57). The charro team, even, he placed two (57-59) with a basket from the corner of Katie Samuelson (57-59).
The dream lasted longer than gasoline, which began to run out for Roberto Íñiguez’s (minutes for seven players plus Cazorla). Hayes made the last effort (29 points), but Yekaterinburg was more than enough and Meesseman placed the +11 from the free kick (64-75) just over a minute to go.
Anyway, there is good news for women’s basketball. Third title in a row for Miguel Méndez and sixth title for Alba Torrens, new queen with Diana Taurasi and Natalia Vieru, of the modern Euroleague. And sixth also for Yekaterinburg, which becomes the second team with the most cups, although still far from Riga (18) of Uliana Semenova, because there are giants even bigger than this dream team.