February 11, 2022 

Catching up with EuroLeague at the last international break

The last international break of the season leads us to a two-week sprint toward the EuroLeague postseason. Who will get there and how will the playoffs work?

Though it’s been seven days since we last met, no more EuroLeague games took place in that span. But despite the break in games, we still have plenty to talk about.

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The reason for the break is twofold: first, the ELW regular season should be over by now, had COVID not impacted it and caused games to be postponed. Second, this week is the planned international break.

This break boasts games happening in Japan, Serbia and the United States between Feb. 10 and Feb. 14. Tons of players are involved with as many as 15 countries playing through those five days. You can check the schedule of games here.

Our beloved EuroLeague will be back on Feb. 17, pitting MBA against BLMA in a Group A showdown. I already wrote about what is at stake in last week’s post, so you can check it to get a quick summary of what is still to be decided.

That said, here is a quick list of the postponed games that will be made up before the postseason (teams with options of qualifying for the postseason highlighted):

  • Feb. 17: MBA v BLMA (from W14)
  • Feb. 19: Fenerbahçe v Famila Schio (W14)
  • Feb. 19: Praha v Riga (W13)
  • Feb. 20: MBA v Umana Reyer (W12)
  • Feb. 22: BLMA v Umana Reyer (W13)
  • Feb. 23: UMMC v MBA (W13)
  • Feb. 23: Riga v KSC (W14)
  • Feb. 23: Girona v Basket Landes (W13)
  • Feb. 24: BLMA v Avenida (W11)

Postseason format and schedule breakdown

Speaking of the postseason, you already know six teams have locked themselves into the QF at this point:

  • Group A: UMMC, Avenida and Praha
  • Group B: Fenerbahçe, Sopron and Dynamo Kursk

With two spots still up for grabs, the ELW organizers have made some adjustments to the quarterfinal start dates to accommodate the extension of the regular season and its potential impact on scheduling for the qualifying teams. The teams have been given a range of dates and will be able to negotiate amongst themselves to pick the game days that they prefer.

Now, to explain that in simpler terms, here’s a rundown of what could happen:

  • There will be three different options of dates for the eight QF teams to choose from. The QF series will be played on a best-of-three format.
  • First option aka “Official calendar”: March 8, 11, 16
  • Second option aka “Alternative calendar”: March 9, 15, 18
  • Third option aka “Advanced option”: March 2, 9, 16

The third/advanced option will only be available for teams that know their series in advance. FIBA hasn’t made clear what that means, but I have to assume this option will be activated for Group B’s teams only in the case of a win by Famila Schio on Feb. 19 (they’d qualify and eliminate Girona from contention), and for Group A’s only if Venezia defeats MBA on Feb. 20 and other results align for the No. 4 seed to be named early.

In other words, I’d guess the third option wouldn’t be available for any team qualifying through the games taking place in the last week of play between Feb. 22 and Feb. 24.

It will be interesting to see how teams plan their postseason games and how agreements ultimately shape. There will definitely be games for two straight weeks from March 9-16 no matter what happens, with the chance of that stretch spanning for another bonus week if the third option is activated — with the largest span stretching from March 2-18.

The dates for the Final Four are expected to remain the same, with the semifinals on April 8 and the final on April 10, along with the third-place game.

Catching up with the postponed games performances and results

With a week off from games during the international break, we have an opportunity to catch up on some of the postponed games that we haven’t been able to delve deeply into. As I’m writing this during the break, there have been six makeup games played: one from Week 10, four from Week 11, and finally one from Week 12. Let’s quickly go through them, highlighting some of the better individual performances.

W10: Avenida 110, Umana Reyer 69

This was a very serious performance by Avenida, reaching 100+ points for the second time through the regular season, tying UMMC as the only two teams to do it twice this year.

Kahleah Copper and Katie Lou Samuelson both finished with 26+ efficiency figures combining for 52 of the 110 points. Copper added four rebounds while Samuelson pulled down six herself. It was a no-history game, honestly, as five players from Avenida (including WNBA imports Karlie Samuelson and Bella Alarie) topped the efficiency leaderboard of this game. Astou Ndour was Umana Reyer’s best player, though she only contributed with 14 points and no other stat (to go with five personal fouls).

W11: Basket Landes 71, Galatasaray 62

This defeat confirmed how much of a year to forget this one has been for the Turkish side. Tina Krajisnik, of course, was the best player of the game even in defeat (21 points, 11 rebounds, one block). Kelsey Plum, signed after the Christmas break, contributed a very solid 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals in a phenomenal game, but not even that was enough to get the W.

For Landes, New York Liberty’s stashed rookie Marine Fauthoux was fantastic, putting up a 15-point, eight-assists, six-rebound line, even though the shooting wasn’t great with 31/30/67 splits on 13 field-goal attempts (10 of them from beyond the arc) and six freebies. There is a very real chance Fauthoux ends up playing an important role for the WNBA franchise, and here’s hoping that’s indeed the case!

W11: Dynamo Kursk 71, Girona 66

The final score doesn’t tell the story of how strong this game was for Dyanmo Kursk, with its starting five all playing 30+ minutes and the three WNBA imports finishing with efficiency figures at 14 or higher. Epiphany Prince dropped 15 points to go with four dimes and one rebound, Arike Ogunbowale filled the stat line all across the board with 16 points, four assists, two rebounds, and two steals, and she even swatted a shot. But the player of the game was undoubtedly Natasha Howard.

Howard, in a 37-minute effort, carried Dynamo to the victory with an astonishing efficiency of 36 thanks to one of the best performances of the regular season after dropping 33 points on 23 field goals to go with 19 (!!) rebounds. It’s just the fourth 30-point game of the regular season, with teammate Eva Lisec having one of the other three and Kahleah Copper two such nights. The 19 rebounds are also an ELW-high, with Howard and Sandrine Gruda the only two players to reach that mark this season.

W11: Famila Schio 64, Arka Gdynia 61

Jasmine Keys went off in this one. Famila Schio had the top-3 players of the game in terms of efficiency, but Keys was, well, the key for their victory against Arka Gdynia. Keys finished with an impressive 19-point, nine-rebound, five-steal, four-assist, four-block line in 35 minutes of playing time for an efficiency of 38. Megan Gustafson was clearly the main weapon in Arka Gdynia’s lineup and she proved so with a 13-point, six-rebound game herself and the highest efficiency (12) among her teammates. Shout out Sandrine Gruda for her 11 rebounds on the day to go with six points, two dimes, and one each of the steals and blocks variety.

Minnesota Lynx guard Kayla McBride (21) handles the ball during a WNBA game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on Aug. 17, 2021. (Photo credit: Chris Poss)

W11: Fenerbahçe 82, Sopron 59

This was a statement win for Fenerbahçe. Sopron is already into the QF as a top-4 team to come out of Group B. Sopron, also, has scored 70+ points in six games of the 14 it has played through the regular season and has been one of the best rebounding ELW squads.

Briann January was the best player for Sopron, but she was “limited” to 14 points, two rebounds, two steals, and one assist. Gabby Williams, even logging 28 minutes, could only finish with an efficiency figure of 1 and a plus/minus of minus-20.

The Turkish played all of Satou Sabally, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, and Elizabeth Williams for 28 minutes or more, while all of them finished inside the top-5 players of the game in the efficiency category. That’s falling short of describing what these women did, though. Sabally (18 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, one steal) is just incredible and I can’t wait to see a full WNBA season from her come summertime. McBride dumped 22 points, hitting five triples and 8-of-14 FGA total to go with six rebounds and three dimes. Elizabeth Williams was her dominant self, doing a little bit of everything with 12 points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals, and three (!) blocks. And Iagupova had another do-it-all game with 11 points, 4 rebounds, five assists, and a one-and-one steals and blocks. Unstoppable squad and clear favorite for the title along with UMMC.

W12: UMMC 89, KSC 52

If Emma Meesseman doesn’t turn into one of the best comeback stories of the WNBA next season, then something must have gone very wrong. Meesseman has played 13 ELW games averaging 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks. She was good to almost reach all of those marks in this game with a 10-13-5-3-1 line, posting up her second double-double of the year and the first since Week 2. Of course, the efficiency of 27 was tied for her prior season-high.

The other five players to make the top-6 in the efficiency leaderboard of this game? Well, all UMMC players including imports Allie Quigley (21), Brittney Griner (13), and Courtney Vandersloot (13). So dominant was UMMC performance that no import reached 30 minutes of playing time, Jonquel Jones sat out the match entirely, and Maria Vadeva finished with the worst efficiency (2) even though she played 21 minutes — basically, that was, because all she did was attempting one shot, grabbing one rebound, and stealing one possession. The Russians didn’t need much more from her as they rolled to the win.

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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