Several national team players came to the fore on the opening day of the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
Chief among them was Candace Parker of theUnited States, who plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Parker dazzled and dominated with 17 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals as Ekat routed CCC Polkowice, 68-45.
The USA’s Diana Taurasi, a four-time EuroLeague Women champion in her days with Sparta&K Moscow Region, had a quiet Monday with just seven points and five rebounds for UMMC.
There were also terrific performances from the USA duo of Seimone Augustus andCandice Dupree, who poured in 18 points apiece in Sparta&K’s 88-79 victory overBeretta Famila Schio.
Dupree also had down nine boards.
The clutch performance for Sparta&K, however, was turned in by Spain‘s Elisa Aguilar.
A former player with Ros Casares and Rivas Ecopolis, Aguilar signed for Sparta&K last summer to add some experience to the backcourt and she delivered in big way.
In the fourth quarter, after Schio pulled to within 64-62, Aguilar whipped the ball toSonja Petrovic on the perimeter and the Serbian nailed a three-pointer.
The next time down the floor, Aguilar drilled a shot from the arc to stretch the Sparta&K lead to eight.
The 36-year-old hit another three-ball in the quarter and finished with game with 11 points in just 14 minutes.
Aguilar’s experience will come in handy for Spain this summer at the EuroBasket Women in France, where they will attempt to qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.
Monday was not good for France’s only team at the Final Eight.
Former EuroLeague Women champions Bourges, who have the France national team trio of Celine Dumerc, Endene Miyem and Emmeline Ndongue, crashed to a 69-44defeat to Fenerbahce.
Miyem had 11 points and 10 boards but Dumerc, one of the biggest stars of the London Games with silver-medal winning France, had just one assist and six turnovers to go with her six points.
Ndongue also struggled with two points and four rebounds.
Jo Leedham, the joint-leading scorer at the Olympics where she played for hosts Great Britain, also had a tough afternoon.
She made three of her 11 shots for eight points with a three-of-11 effort from long range.
Anastasiya Verameyenka, a great player in the Belarus national team that finished fourth at the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women, finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for Fenerbahce.
Team USA’s Angel McCoughtry led Fener in scoring with 17 points.
The second day of the Final Eight will be played on Tuesday.