Last weekend, UMMC Ekaterinburg hosted the 2017 FIBA EuroLeague Women Final Four where they had the opportunity to defend their 2016 championship. Unfortunately for Emma Meesseman and Kristi Toliver, they lost 70-61 last Friday against Fenerbahce of Turkey. However, they were third place after beating ZVVK USK Praha of the Czech Republic on Sunday.
In their loss to Fenerbahce, UMMC played a team that had the Los Angeles Sparks’ starting frontcourt of Candace Parker (15 rebounds) and Jantel Lavender (21 points). Diana Taurasi led the way for UMMC with 26 points, but Toliver added 7 points and Meesseman added 2 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. This game was also a close contest from start to finish, but Fenerbahce outscored UMMC 42-28 in the second half to get the W. That loss was a rare down note to an otherwise strong season for them.
But on Sunday, things changed when UMMC faced USK Praha.
Toliver remained the starting point guard and Meesseman remained the first post player off the bench — but they scored 34 combined points (18 for Toliver, 16 for Meesseman) to fend off the Czech squad, who’s led by former Mystics center Kia Vaughn.
Meesseman had a double double where she added 12 rebounds, while Toliver made four of her eight three pointers on the night. If you want to see it to believe it, the highlights are below:
In the championship game, Russian Premier Basketball League rival Dynamo Kursk won the title against Fenerbahce, 77-63.
What’s next for Meesseman’s and Toliver’s European commitments?
Though UMMC didn’t win the EuroLeague title, which is analagous to the UEFA Champions League in soccer, they still have some domestic games left to play. They will play Dynamo Kursk in the Russian Premier Basketball League finals in a best of three series starting next Sunday, April 23. The season will end by April 27 if there are three games in this series.
WNBA training camps start next Sunday as well, so Meesseman and Toliver will miss the start of camp. Though both are from European countries that will participate in EuroBasket Women 2017 in June (Meesseman is Belgian, Toliver is Slovak), they are expected to be in D.C. before the start of the regular season.