March 25, 2023 

EuroLeague: CBK, Famila Schio and Praha join Fenerbahçe in Final Four

Rhyne Howard, Alyssa Thomas and Chelsea Gray among the WNBA players who came up big in clinching games

The 2023 EuroLeague Final Four is set! Two EuroLeague debutants, CBK Mersin and Famila Schio, will face perennial favorites Praha and Fenerbahçe, respectively.

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Even though Fenerbahçe sealed its presence in the Final Four more than a week ago, the team from Istanbul won’t have an advantage when it comes to rest. There are three weeks between the quarterfinals and the Final Four, with the venue still to be announced.

Let’s review what went down in the clinching games last Wednesday.

CBK demolishes Tango Bourges

After failing to capitalize on a 1-0 series lead last Friday, losing the second game by one point, CBK inflicted a 91-63 defeat on French side Tango Bourges in the decisive Game 3. The win sealed the presence of the Turkish organization in the Final Four for the first time in its history.

The game was close through the first period, but CBK’s strengths started to show in the second frame, and it led by 13 points at the break. Things got worse for Bourges after that, as it lost the final two quarters 45-30.

Although CBK turned the ball over 15 times to Bourges’ 10, the Turkish side dominated on all other fronts. The 47-29 rebound advantage was the most glaring difference. Chelsea Gray led CBK with 27 points to go with nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals. It was by far her best game of the year including both the regular season and postseason.

Elizabeth Williams had a fantastic 14-point, eight-rebound outing, while the trio of Tiffany Hayes, Aleksandra Crvendakic and Jelena Dubljevic combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds for CBK.

Bourges featured a couple of double-digit scorers in Anete Steinberga (14) and Laetitia Guapo (13), but no player on the French squad grabbed more than three rebounds while only Alix Duchet topped four dimes. Current and former WNBA players Kayla Alexander and Yvonne Anderson didn’t help Bourges much with plus/minus figures of -24 and -22, respectively. Anderson also fouled out with four turnovers in 27 minutes of play.

Praha overcomes relentless Avenida

Avenida and Praha played the most exciting game of the season last Friday, when the Spanish side got a series-tying overtime victory by way of a buzzer-beating layup by Andrea Vilaro. That wasn’t the case on Wednesday, though, as Praha hosted Avenida and showed it the door, winning 74-66 and only losing one quarter.

Both teams put together 12-0 runs at different points in the game. Praha’s early 12-point lead didn’t matter at all, as Avenida recovered to take the lead early in the second quarter. But after the host retook the lead at 26-24 with 7:40 left in the second frame, it never relinquished its advantage again.

In a surprising turn of events considering the teams’ rosters, Avenida scored as many points in the paint as Praha (32), though the Spanish side clearly lost the battle on the glass, pulling down 24 rebounds to Praha’s 41. Avenida hustled all game long, getting 11 steals and forcing 17 turnovers.

Not even that helped Avenida punch a Final Four ticket. Maite Cazorla (18), Julia Reisingerova (12) and Bridget Carleton (11) led the team on the scoring front, but none of their teammates scored more than seven or grabbed more than five rebounds.

Alyssa Thomas led Praha with 20 points and 10 rebounds, to which she added seven dimes and a steal for a game-high efficiency of 27. Teja Oblak (19 points) trailed Thomas by one point while pulling down three rebounds and dishing out five assists. Temi Fagbenle finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Brionna Jones wasn’t very impactful through 22 minutes (mainly because of foul trouble), scoring 12 points and grabbing four boards.

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Famila Schio wins battle of EuroLeague debutants

After averaging more than 73 points per game through the regular season, Valencia couldn’t hit a bucket on Wednesday, falling 62-53 to fellow EuroLeague debutant Famila Schio and finishing their first-ever EuroLeague season one game short of the semifinals.

With the victory, Famila Schio became the first Italian team in more than 20 years to clinch a spot in the EuroLeague semifinals. It can thank the trio of Jasmine Keys, Astou Ndour-Fall and Rhyne Howard for carrying them there. Keys led the team with eight rebounds; Ndour-Fall put up an efficient 8-for-11 shooting performance for 17 points; and Howard filled the stat line with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in 34 minutes.

Valencia didn’t have anything going its way. Outside of Raquel Carrera and Queralt Casas, who combined for 32 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and four steals, no player had more than seven points, five rebounds or four assists. Famila Schio hit 41% of its shots to Valencia’s 34% from the floor while connecting on nine 3-pointers to Valencia’s two.

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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