UMMC Ekaterinburg defeated Perfumerias Avenida 78-68 on Sunday to win the 2020-21 EuroLeague Women championship. Emma Meesseman led the way for Ekaterinburg with 19 points and 8 rebounds while Courtney Vandersloot chipped in 12 points and 12 assists; Tiffany Hayes scored 29 for Avenida.
It’s the third consecutive EuroLeague Women championship for Ekaterinburg dating back to the 2017-18 season (the 2019-20 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic), and it’s a title that seemed inevitable from the get-go. With a stacked roster including Meesseman, Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, Breanna Stewart, Brittney Griner, Jonquel Jones, Alba Torrens and Maria Vadeeva, Ekaterinburg assembled the international equivalent of an all-star team — one that was widely expected to win it all in a shortened EuroLeague Women season.
That’s precisely what Ekaterinburg did. The Russian club finished first in EuroLeague Women in both points per game (87.5) and shooting efficiency (52.9 percent), going undefeated in group play and then rolling through its four playoff games. Ekaterinburg had four players (Vandersloot, Meesseman, Torrens and Stewart) named to All-EuroLeague Women First or Second Teams, and Stewart took home Final Four MVP honors.
That’s not to say, of course, that Ekaterinburg went unchallenged. Fenerbahçe came within seconds of a major upset in the semifinals, and Avenida gave a similarly spirited effort on Sunday. It opened up a 21-16 first-quarter lead in the championship game and — after Ekaterinburg took control in subsequent quarters — remained within just three points with five minutes to go.
Fenerbahçe — an excellent team in its own right — bounced back on Sunday, defeating Sopron Basket 64-58 to earn a third-place finish in EuroLeague Women. It was a fitting end to the season for 2020-21 MVP and leading scorer Alina Iagupova, who cemented her place as one of the best players in the world with her stellar performance in the competition.
Now that the book has closed on another EuroLeague Women season, the next international women’s basketball competition hosted by FIBA will be on May 15 when the FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series returns in Mies, CH. Women’s EuroBasket will then begin on June 17, with the Tokyo Olympics taking place from July 26 to Aug. 8.