Sports

Jones helps Ekaterinburg win third straight EuroLeague title

Bahamian Jonquel “JJ” Jones and her Russian club, UMMC Ekaterinburg, completed a three-peat when they won the 2020-2021 EuroLeague women’s title at the Volkswagen Arena in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sunday. They took down Spain’s Perfumerias Avenida, 78-68.

Ekaterinburg won the title back in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 edition of the tournament was canceled due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this is the club’s sixth title, second only to TTT Riga which has 18 titles.

In their 10 games played in the EuroLeague tournament, Ekaterinburg remained perfect as they dominated their Group C play.

In the championship game, Jones came off the bench and scored nine points in 18 minutes of play. However, she led her team with 11 boards as they out rebounded Avenida, 33-20. Jones finished 3-for-6 from the field, including knocking down her only shot attempt from deep. Defensively, the Grand Bahama native was able to swat two shots in the game.

It was a slow start to the game for Ekaterinburg as Avenida opened up on an 8-2 run. Jones checked into the game with 3:21 left in the first quarter with Avenida up 18-7. Her first bucket came at the 2:02 mark when she connected on her only shot attempt from deep. Avenida led 21-12 at that point.

Jones scored the final two points of the quarter for her team – a jump shot that brought them to within six points with 20 seconds left in the first quarter. Avenida led 21-16 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Ekaterinburg took their first lead of the game after going on an 11-3 scoring run. They led 27-25 at the 4:28 mark of the second quarter, completing the run on a Britney Griner bucket. Ekaterinburg never gave up the lead again. Jones picked up both of her blocks in this quarter but was unable to register any points. Be that as it may, her team used a 23-9 advantage in the quarter to take a 39-30 lead at the half.

Jones did not play a minute in the third quarter, watching as her teammates held on to guide them to a 59-53 lead at the end of three.

Jones played all 10 minutes in a crucial fourth quarter. After Avenida cut into their lead, 64-60, Jones split a pair of free-throws to give her team a 65-60 lead at the 5:59 mark in that final quarter. Jones extended her team’s lead to 77-64 with a layup with 41 seconds left in the game, and Ekaterinburg held on to win.

Jones’ teammate Breanna Stewart was named the Final Four Most Valuable Player (MVP) as she finished with 12 points, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the game.

Tiffany Hayes’ 29 points and five points were not enough for Avenida to win the game.

Finishing third was the Final Four host Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo after winning 64-58 over Sopron Basket in the third-place game.

Jones, 27, finished with a healthy 12.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game in the 10 games she played in the tournament. The 7.7 rebounds ranked her at number nine in the tournament. She shot a blistering 62.3 percent from the field.

Jones and the other Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players will now head back to the United States of America to prepare for the 25th WNBA season that gets underway less than a month from now, on May 14. Connecticut Sun center Jones took last season off because of COVID-19 concerns, and has not yet announced any plans for this season. However, it has been reported that she will play.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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