October 15, 2022 

EuroLeague qualifiers: DVTK and Olympiacos get in, ESBVA leads Girona

Just one spot in the EuroLeague regular season is still up for grabs, and one game will decide it

The qualifiers part of the EuroLeague season is mostly over, with two out of three available spots now settled before the regular season tips off on Oct. 26. There is only one qualifier game left, as the Spanish team Girona (down 0-1) will host the French side ESBVA on Wednesday (Oct. 19) as part of the two-team playoff.

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The first week of qualifier games saw both the Greek side Olympiacos and the Hungarian team DVTK start strong with victories over Elizur Ramla and ACS Sepsi, respectively. The margins of victory were so large that they made it difficult for the opposition to make them up in subsequent games.

Let’s review it all to get a better idea of what happened throughout the week of qualifiers!

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Phoenix Mercury center Megan Gustafson stands with her hands on her hips during a game against the Washington Mystics at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., on June 14, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra)

Qualifying Tournament A: Olympiacos, Sepsi and KKZ

On Tuesday, Olympiacos dominated Sepsi 73-54 behind strong performances by WNBA imports Megan Gustafson (efficiency of 41) and Kylee Shook (13). Gustafson had the best performance of the full slate with 29 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Khadijiah Cave led Sepsi with 14 points and 14 rebounds to go with two assists, two steals and two blocks. Maria Jespersen also finished with an 18-5-1-3 line, but no other player from Sepsi scored more than seven points.

In a tremendous effort one day later, Sepsi defeated Serbian hosts KKZ Crvena Zvezda 83-63, thus closing their opening two games with a 1-1 record and a point differential of plus-1. Olympiacos held the head-to-head advantage over Sepsi from the win on Tuesday, but that didn’t take away from the fantastic game played by the Romanian side. It was a group effort: Cave, Jespersen and Britney Jones each scored at least 18 points, while Bethy Mununga finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, five steals, and three assists in 37 minutes.

With Olympiacos sitting at 1-0 with a plus-19 point differential and KKZ at 0-1 and minus-20, the most the latter could do was defeat the Greeks. That would create a three-way tie in which Olympiacos would win the tiebreaker. However, KKZ fell to Olympiacos 84-60. KKZ came as close as one point in the second quarter, but Olympiacos eventually led by as many as 30.

It was another ridiculous game by Gustafson, whose 25 points and five rebounds (with a steal and a block) in 17 minutes was the most efficient stat line through the first three days of qualifying games. Olympiacos only made the EuroLeague regular season through this qualifying tournament, but if Gustafson and Shook keep up their current form, the Greek team could be a Final Four contender.

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Los Angeles Sparks guard Arella Guirantes (22) drives to the basket as Connecticut Sun guard Kaila Charles (3) defends during a WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Aug. 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Chris Poss)

Qualifying Tournament B: DVTK, Ramla and Botas

The story of Day 1, even in defeat, was the marvelous performance by WNBA import Shakira Austin. Austin, playing her first game overseas for the Israeli club Elizur Ramla, had 19 points, 19 rebounds, six blocks and two assists. The problem for Austin and Ramla, though, was that her teammates didn’t help her much on Tuesday, combining for just 35 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and eight steals.

DVTK’s 80-54 victory over Ramla and the resultant 26-point differential put the Hungarian side on the right track to reach the group stage. It punched its ticket for Group B of the EuroLeague one day later by defeating Botas SK 75-54. With a 2-0 record in its two games (and an unneeded but impressive plus-47 point differential), DVTK rendered the game between Ramla and Botas on Thursday unnecessary other than for bragging rights.

Former Los Angeles Sparks guard and current Puerto Rico international Arella Guirantes was as good as advertised in the first game of the qualifying tournament for DVTK, recording 13 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks. On Wednesday, Guirantes gave way to teammate (and former Tennessee Lady Vol) Cheridene Green, who cooked Botas to the tune of 17 points, four rebounds and an overall 21 efficiency.

In the final game between Group B hopefuls, Austin had another good performance (12 points, eight rebounds, two steals, one dime and one block), but it was former Washington Mystics forward Bernice Mosby who made a statement with 17 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, plus five assists in her 32 minutes.

Lithuania international Egle Sventoraite was the best Botas had to throw Ramla’s and DVTK’s ways as she nearly averaged a double-double with 13.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Melis Gulcan had a fantastic 14-point, 10-rebound game against Ramla, but her poor opening performance didn’t help Botas enough against DVTK.

With DVTK now qualified for the regular season, Hungary is the first country to have three teams in the EuroLeague. Either France or Spain, depending on which team comes out of the qualifying play-off, will match that.

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Chicago Sky guard Rebekah Gardner (35) shoots during a WNBA game against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on June 10, 2022. (Photo credit: Chris Poss)

Play-off: ESBVA and Girona

ESBVA and Girona faced each other on Wednesday to get their home-and-away play-off started, with the first game taking place in France. The hosts ESBVA ran away with a 69-57 victory over Girona, which made the EuroLeague quarterfinals last season.

Former Mystics wing Kennedy Burke was the best player for ESBVA, putting 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block for an efficiency of 19. Teammate Janelle Salaun had 15 points, six rebounds and an efficiency of 17. Chicago Sky guard Rebekah Gardner was the leading scorer for Girona with 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. But her plus-minus of minus-10 tells you all you need to know about how poor the day was for the Spanish team.

Now down a game in the two-game play-off, the only way Girona can qualify for the EuroLeague is by defeating ESBVA on Oct. 19 by more than 12 points, which would give Girona a better point differential.

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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