Breanna Stewart Leads UMMC Ekaterinburg to 2021 EuroLeague Crown, Earns Final Four MVP Honors
Another EuroLeague season is in the books, and USA National Team athletes closed it out with impressive games on the final day, highlighted by Final Four MVP Breanna Stewart, who averaged 14.5 ppg., 7.0 rpg. and 3.0 apg. in her two Final Four games in leading UMMC Ekaterinburg to its sixth EuroLeague title.
“The MVP is always extra, the icing on the cake,” said Stewart after the game. “But the priority was to win, and that’s what we wanted to do. If you look at our team, there were so many people in double-digit scoring, so many people who did all the things that don’t show up on the stat sheets. So, we know with this team, we have a lot of MVPs. We just continue to play our role and do what we can to win, because that’s what’s most important.”
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) April 18, 2021
Even more impressive than claiming MVP honors is the fact that she is back in the Final Four where in 2019, playing for Dynamo Kursk in the championship game against UMMC Ekaterinburg, Stewart suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. My last Final Four was against UMMC in the game that I got injured. And actually, I think today is two years from the day that I had surgery. But, just really happy with the ability to be back playing with this club, with (head coach) Miguel (Mendez). An incredible coach, incredible club, and I really wanted to make the most of the opportunity because no matter if I got injured or not, the last season was lost. To be able to win and take home the title with Miguel and with this club is something that you will never forget.”
The championship game was a clash between two undefeated teams that featured two USA National team athletes apiece. In the end, however, the depth of UMMC Ekaterinburg, with Brittney Griner and Stewart, as well as a host of other strong international players, held off Perfumerias Avenida to earn the 2021 title. Griner and Stewart combined for 26 points and 14 rebounds, while Tiffany Hayes scored a game-high 29 points and Katie Lou Samuelson chipped in six points for Avenida.
In the bronze medal game, which saw host Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo holding a slim 47-46 lead heading into the fourth quarter, Fener received seven points from Kayla McBride and six from Jasmine Thomas as it outscored Sopron Basket 17-12 in the final frame for the 64-58 victory for third place in the 2021 EuroLeague Final Four.
A pair of USA National Team athletes were named to the 2021 All-EuroLeague teams, announced earlier this week. Samuelson listed on the first team and Stewart was on the second team.
GOLD MEDAL GAME: UMMC Ekaterinburg 78, Perfumerias Avenida 68
After trailing 21-16 in the first quarter, UMMC Ekaterinburg picked up its defensive intensity and outscored Perfumerias Avenida 23-9 in the second quarter for a 39-30 halftime lead.
Avenida chiseled three points off Ekat’s lead in the third quarter and with 10 minutes to play, was within striking distance, 59-53.
Avenida opened the final stanza with a Hayes driving layup and a long jumper from Samuelson that closed the gap to 59-57 with 8:39 left in the game. And with five minutes to play, the Russian club remained in sight of the Spanish side 65-62. However, Ekat scored the game’s next six points to expand its lead to 71-62 with 3:38 to play and remained in charge through the end.
Griner tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists; while Stewart contributed 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocked shots in the victory.
In addition to her 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field, Hayes added five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Samuelson also grabbed six rebounds.
BRONZE MEDAL GAME: Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo 64, Sopron Basket 58
Fener, which never trailed and held as much as an 18-point lead in the first half, opened the game with a 22-9 advantage after the first quarter. However, Sopron came back to win the second quarter 22-14 and shrink Fener’s lead at halftime to one, 36-31. Sopron continued to chip away in the third quarter to come within a point at the end of the third stanza. However, Fener outlasted Sopron in the end for the victory.
McBride capped her EuroLeague season with team-highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Thomas chipped in eight points, six rebounds and three assists.