January 7, 2023 

EuroLeague Week 8: Fenerbahçe win by 50 welcoming Breanna Stewart and Satou Sabally

Fenerbahçe dominant in Week 8 win

It turns out it was all a mirage, wasn’t it? At the end of the day, it’s Fenerbahçe’s world and we (and more than anyone, BC Polkowice) just live in it. Turkish side Fenerbahçe and Polish newcomer Polkowice were scheduled to kick the 2023 calendar year off in great fashion, until they didn’t; or not at least when it came to the latter’s effort to spot the former from demolishing them.

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Fenerbahçe defeated Polkowice 111-61 on Wednesday, put 50 points (!!!) between both teams, and earned a victory that helped them jump over their rivals to the no. 1 seed in Group A with eight games in the books.

Fenerbahçe couldn’t count on Natasha Howard (she’s left the country already with her deal expiring last year) but welcomed both Breanna Stewart and Satou Sabally to Istanbul as they recently joined the Turkish organization. The true MVP of the game was Emma Meesseman, though, who finished the day with 25 points, seven boards, three assists, two steals and one block while posting a game-high efficiency of 31.

Stephanie Mavunga, Erica Wheeler and Zala Friskovec all scored double-digit points for Polkowice but as many as five players from Fenerbahçe hit 13 or more themselves. Shout-out to Kayla McBride and her 54 plus-minus on 35 minutes. Just for context, Alina Iagupova spent 34 minutes on the court yesterday but she finished with a plus-minus of 40 in comparison. Good Lord, KMB.

Praha keep up with the leaders of Group A, Olympiacos remain winless this season

The other favorite to finish the year with a top-two seed in Group A, USK Praha, easily dealt with Hungarian team KSC blasting them 95-56 on Wednesday. It was a no-contest type of game with the Czech Republic team sealing the deal by halftime as they went to the break leading 50-26.

The best KSC could do was build a four-point lead early in the game and put together a (meaningless) 7-0 run when the match was already decided. Victoria Vivians‘ 18 points and six rebounds, along with Cyesha Goree’s eight-and-eight were never going to be enough for KSC, let alone having two behemoths of players in Alyssa Thomas (20 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds) and Brionna Jones (19 points, 10 rebounds) in front of them.

Praha’s win made it possible for Group A to feature three teams (Praha, Fenerbahçe and Polkowice) tied atop the group each boasting a 6-2 record.

Olympiacos lost their eighth game in a row and remain winless in the EuroLeague after losing 81-66 to French side Tango Bourges in Greece. It went downhill for Olympiacos from the get-go as they fell to an 18-27 score after the first intermission and trailed Bourges by 20 points at the half.

Megan Gustafson completed her customary double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds and Angeliki Nikolopoulou added 12 points, six boards and six dimes to Olympiacos’ collective effort. The Greeks could only score a meager six points through the final period after putting up 31 in the third, falling quite short of Bourges’ 81 total points.

Tango Bourges were led by the pair of Kayla Alexander and Yvonne Anderson, who grabbed eight rebounds each to go with 12 and 15 points respectively. Endene Miyem dropped 16 points herself while Anete Steinberga also hit double-digit points for Bourges. Olympiacos never led the game as Bourges’ lead ballooned to a maximum 25-point difference with one minute left in the second quarter.

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Valencia and Bologna have deja-vu, Cukurova and Avenida reverse roles

The EuroLeague schedule follows a similar structure for the first and second halves of the season. Games played in Week 1 on a team’s stadium are then played in Week 8 again, only on the other team’s arena, and so on for the remainder of the season following the same order.

That is why it was a bit uncanny to watch Valencia defeat Virtus Bologna 75-73 last Wednesday after the Spaniards also got the better of the Italians back in Week 1 when they also won that game by two points and a very similar 73-71 final score. As frustrating as it must be for Bologna, the reality for them is that they currently sit second-to-last with a 2-6 record in comparison to Valencia’s 5-3 and fourth place in Group A.

Marie Gulich filled her stat line to the brim with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. She was joined by Raquel Carerra (19) and Cristina Ouvina (12) in scoring double-digit points while teammate Leticia Romero stole three possessions. Virtus’ Cheyenne Parker was great, scoring 24 points and pulling down eight rebounds, while Cecilia Zandalasini‘s massive effort (11 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals) sadly got wasted in Bologna’s defeat.

Back in October when Avenida hosted (and defeated 83-66) CBK Mersin, the Turkish side claimed their players had been intoxicated by the hotel staff that served them their meals prior to the game, alleging that was the main reason for their loss. There was fear in Avenida’s camp flying to Turkiye about Cukurova possibly doing something of the like to the Spaniards under their made-up belief, but I’m afraid we’ll never know about that. What we know, though, is that Cukurova exacted revenge on the hardwood by beating Avenida 85-80 on Wednesday.

Both teams featured one player scoring into the 20’s (Dewanna Bonner had 21 points for CBK; Mariella Fasoula dropped 22 for Avenida) and three more getting into double digits. Cukurova’s biggest lead got up to nine points with Avenida getting a six-point one themselves. In the end, though, it was CBK having the stiffest defense with more steals (nine to six) and blocks (four to none) than the Spaniards while leading the game for solid 31-plus minutes to Avenida’s five.

Jonquel Jones has left Cukurova and is not expected to return to Turkiye to play for CBK, although the Turkish already signed WNBA import Elizabeth Williams to make up for that departure. They didn’t quite need her on Wednesday, though, with Tiffany Hayes (17 points), Chelsea Gray (19), and Quanitra Hollingsworth (10) all falling just one rebound (the first two) or one dime (Gray) short of putting up double-double stat lines.

Sopron go on top of Group B, Girona and DVTK win on back-to-back weeks

Spaniards from Girona earned their second win in a row, sandwiching the Christmas break after defeating Basket Landes 65-54 in the third consecutive defeat by the French side. Girona went to sleep on Wednesday having a 5-3 record on the season and tied with Avenida and CBK at the top of Group B with both Sopron and Schio still to play their games on Thursday.

The players from Girona were led by an astonishing Marianna Tolo who was nearly automatic from the field hitting 10-of-15 field goals for 22 points on the evening. Rebekah Gardner added 15 points to Girona’s final tally while also contributing four rebounds and four assists. Most impressively, though, was the fact that as many as eight players from the Spanish side pulled down either four or five rebounds combining for 37 between them.

Regan Magarity (12) and Marie-Eve Paget (10) were the only two players on Landes’ side to score into double digits while Kendra Chery added eight points and nine rebounds. Landes got outrebounded 42-33 and more damagingly they allowed 14 points off their turnovers while only scoring five themselves.

Sopron allowed their competitors just one atop Group B before beating Kangoeroes 71-64 to lead the way all by themselves, boasting a 6-2 record after eight weeks of play. Sopron led the game for more than 39 minutes and got to build a 17-point lead a few ticks before halftime.

The Hungarian team wasn’t overly dominant on any front, although Kangoeroes surely didn’t help themselves with the Belgium squad combining for 18 turnovers to Sopron’s nine (and nine steals). Yvonne Turner led Sopron with four steals while Ezi Magbegor blocked three shots. Five players on the Hungarian side scored at least 10 points with Jelena Brooks putting up 21 and Magbegor falling just one rebound short of a double-double.

Kangoeroes’ Morgan Bertsch led her team with 21 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Ziomara Morrison had 18 points and seven boards and Heleen Nauwelaers hit 11 points while pulling down five rebounds. Although Lisa Berkani only scored five points, she was able to contribute eight dimes and grab six boards through 34 minutes of play.

DVTK surprised everyone by edging Famila Schio 65-63 on Thursday. The Italians led the game by seven points with 6:20 to go but they could do nothing to stop DVTK’s monster effort through the second half of the final period. The Hungarians tied it all at 60 with 3:50 to go, saw the scoreboard get locked at 63 points each with 1:52 remaining, and finally overtook Famila Schio never relinquishing their lead after that.

Two players from each side stole three possessions each while Cheridene Green led all players involved in the game with 10 rebounds.

Astou Ndour led Famila Schio with 13 points and five boards while three other players scored 10 or more for the Italians. Rhyne Howard had another disappointing outing although she got to contribute all across the stat line with three points (she only made one of nine field-goal attempts…), six rebounds, three steals, one dime and one block.

DVTK had two players scoring in double digits (Darcee Garbin had 17 and Veronika Kanyasi hit 10) while three other performers reached at least eight points. Arella Guirantes wasn’t her best self on Thursday, but she still found a way to finish with nine points, seven dimes, five rebounds and one steal.

Written by Antonio Losada

International freelance writer covering the WNBA overseas. Bylines at places, touching different bases. Always open to discussion over @chapulana || Full portfolio

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