October 1, 2022 

2022-23 EuroLeague FAQ – Part 2

Answering more questions about the EuroLeague before it tips off this month

The USA just defeated China to claim its 11th FIBA World Cup. Next up on the hoops calendar is the second-best league in women’s basketball: the EuroLeague. Although its regular season won’t tip off until Oct. 26, a few qualifying games will be played on Oct. 11.

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Last week, we answered some frequently asked questions about the competition, and this week we’re back for Part 2. Let’s go through some questions you might still have and share a list of WNBA players who will play in the EuroLeague this season.

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Why do WNBA players go overseas to play basketball year-round?

Whereas the WNBA features 12 franchises and a salary cap to pay players, all of them capped at a maximum amount of money, European clubs don’t have that limitation. It’s pretty much the Major League Baseball (MLB) model there, in which different teams have different budgets depending on their owners, their sponsorship deals, etc. In other words, Europe is a gold mine of teams that can afford to pay the best players properly, making it a no-brainer for some WNBA players to cross the ocean to earn more than their WNBA salaries for just a few months of playing.

Isn’t this approach risky for players?

Yes. Injuries happen. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic should hopefully be less disruptive, but there could also be surges of the virus that impact players’ health.

In some cases, this is a financial and career necessity for WNBA players. Those who are not making maximum salaries may need other sources of income or want to increase their earnings during their athletic prime. Also, the WNBA offers so few roster spots that most players don’t have much job security and need to show European (and other continents’) teams how good they are, in case their WNBA careers come to a halt earlier than expected.

On top of everything, players want to compete at the highest level, so it makes sense to move from the best league in the world in the summer to the second-best league in the colder months. At the end of the day, so many superstars are playing overseas, and that’s become widely accepted.

Is talent distributed evenly among EuroLeague participants?

Not really. Remember that there are differences between the American and the European business models, namely that there is no salary cap in place in Europe. This swings things wildly when it comes to building rosters.

As an example, the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg won the trophy nearly annually for a good bunch of years by putting together a massively talented and well-paid roster. It won three straight EuroLeagues before it was removed from the competition last year due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s more than probable that UMMC would have snatched the 2020 title, too, had the EuroLeague not been canceled due to the pandemic.

If you’re wondering why UMMC was so fantastic, the following players logged at least 15 minutes in the 2021 championship game against Avenida: Alba Torrens, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, Breanna Stewart, Emma Meesseman, Jonquel Jones and Brittney Griner.

Will UMMC Ekaterinburg be back in the EuroLeague this season?

No. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, all Russian teams got removed from FIBA competitions. That timing meant that UMMC (along with fellow Russians Dynamo Kursk and MBA Moscow) didn’t get to play in the postseason.

UMMC, Dynamo Kursk, MBA Moscow and all other Russian teams have been excluded from FIBA competitions this season as well. They won’t participate in the EuroLeague or any other league under the FIBA banner, and for the most part, the non-Russian players (including WNBA superstars) linked to them have ended their deals with those organizations.

With UMMC gone, are there any other WNBA-star-laden teams in Europe now?

You bet! Not every EuroLeague team can afford to build a Monstars-like squad, but pretty much every team is able to have least one or two active or former WNBA players every year.

Seattle Storm big wing Breanna Stewart leans back with the ball high above her head as she begins to shoot a fadeaway jumper, while New York Liberty big Natasha Howard leans toward her with an arm outstretched to try to block the shot.
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (30) takes a jump shot over New York Liberty forward Natasha Howard in a game at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Wash., on May 29, 2022. (Photo credit: Lydia Ely | The Next)

One team has to be highlighted above everyone else: the Turkish side Fenerbahçe. The club from Istanbul is determined to lift the EuroLeague trophy after falling last season in the Final Four. I wrote a full column about the reasons Fenerbahçe is now a superteam and title favorite, but I can sum it up in the starting five it’ll boast this season: Olivia Epoupa, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, Breanna Stewart and Emma Meesseman.

How can I watch and follow the EuroLeague?

Awesome! You couldn’t have picked a better time, as the competition is tipping off in less than two weeks (Oct. 11) with the qualifiers!

FIBA shows games on YouTube for free, and some of them are archived for later/on-demand viewing (and highlights are uploaded for all games). The matches take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with tip-offs ranging mostly from 11 a.m. EST to 4 p.m. EST. You can find the full schedule here.

At The Next, we are going to cover this year’s EuroLeague in full for the second straight season. We will bring you features, storylines and roundups of all of the action on a weekly basis.

Get ready, because we’re just getting started!

Current WNBA players in the EuroLeague for 2022-23

This table shows the players who appeared in at least one WNBA game in 2022 and are playing in the EuroLeague this offseason.

EuroLeague Team (Country)PlayerWNBA Team
Bourges (France)Yvonne AndersonCON
CBK Mersin (Turkey)Tiffany HayesATL
CBK Mersin (Turkey)Jonquel JonesCON
CBK Mersin (Turkey)DeWanna BonnerCON
CBK Mersin (Turkey)Chelsea GrayLVA
CBK Mersin (Turkey)Briann JanuarySEA
Elizur Ramla (Israel)*Shakira AustinWAS
ESBVA (France)*Kennedy BurkeWAS
Famila Schio (Italy)Rhyne HowardATL
Famila Schio (Italy)Marina MabreyDAL
Fenerbahçe (Turkey)Emma MeessemanCHI
Fenerbahçe (Turkey)Satou SaballyDAL
Fenerbahçe (Turkey)Kiah StokesLVA
Fenerbahçe (Turkey)Kayla McBrideMIN
Fenerbahçe (Turkey)Breanna StewartSEA
Fenerbahçe (Turkey)Natasha HowardNYL
KSC Szekszard (Hungary)Ruthy HebardCHI
KSC Szekszard (Hungary)Victoria ViviansIND
Olympiacos (Greece)Megan GustafsonPHO
Perfumerias Avenida (Spain)Moriah JeffersonMIN
Polkowice (Poland)Erica WheelerATL
Polkowice (Poland)Yvonne TurnerPHO
Sopron (Hungary)Courtney VanderslootCHI
Sopron (Hungary)Brittney SykesLAS
Sopron (Hungary)Ezi MagbegorSEA
Spar Girona (Spain)*Rebekah GardnerCHI
USK Praha (Czech Republic)Brionna JonesCON
USK Praha (Czech Republic)Alyssa ThomasCON
Valencia (Spain)Rebecca AllenNYL
Virtus Bologna (Italy)Cheyenne ParkerATL
Virtus Bologna (Italy)Iliana RupertLVA
Data from FIBA and Basketball-Reference. Note: Spar Girona, ESBVA and Elizur Ramla have not yet qualified for the 2022-23 regular season and will compete in qualifiers.

Former WNBA players in the EuroLeague for 2022-23

This table includes players who did not play a WNBA game in 2022 but have previously played in the league.

EuroLeague Team (Country)PlayerMost Recent WNBA Team (Season)
Basket Landes (France)Celine DumercATL (2014)
Basket Landes (France)Kristen MannMIN (2010)
Bourges (France)Kayla AlexanderMIN (2020)
CBK Mersin (Turkey)Quanitra HollingsworthSEA (2015)
Elizur Ramla (Israel)*Bernice MosbyWAS (2009)
Famila Schio (Italy)Kim MestdaghWAS (2019)
Famila Schio (Italy)Astou NdourCHI (2021)
Famila Schio (Italy)Amanda Zahui B.LAS (2021)
Olympiacos (Greece)Kylee ShookNYL (2021)
Perfumerias Avenida (Spain)Erica McCallWAS (2021)
Polkowice (Poland)Stephanie MavungaCHI (2020)
Sopron (Hungary)Bernadett HatarIND (2021)
USK Praha (Czech Republic)Valeriane AyayiSAS (2015)
Valencia (Spain)Lauren CoxLAS (2021)
Valencia (Spain)Marie GulichLAS (2020)
Virtus Bologna (Italy)Cecilia ZandalasiniMIN (2018)
Data from FIBA and Basketball-Reference. Note: Elizur Ramla has not yet qualified for the 2022-23 regular season and will compete in qualifiers.

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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