January 21, 2023 

EuroLeague Week 10: Roberto Iñiguez trades sinking Avenida for surging Cukurova

Plus, an upset in Group A and huge games from Erica Wheeler and Yvonne Turner

Just a few days after parting ways with its coach and signing a new one, Avenida hosted Italian side Famila Schio in Salamanca, Spain. It couldn’t do anything to stop Schio, though, losing 72-61 and falling to 5-5 this season.

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With Mariella Fasoula (16) and Julia Reisingerova (10) the only two Avenida players in double figures, it was a debut to forget for new Avenida coach Pepe Vazquez. Schio had four players in double figures, led by Rhyne Howard and Amanda Zahui B. with 16 points each, to improve to 7-3 and move to the top of Group B.

Schio’s Jasmine Keys added 14 points to go with a team-high six rebounds (tied with Zahui B.’s tally) and four steals. Schio lost the last two periods but had already built a large enough lead to hang on.

In Turkey, CBK Mersin (6-4) earned its first victory under the guidance of former Avenida head coach Roberto Iñiguez. It took the Spanish coach mere hours after resigning from Avenida to flip to CBK. The move was highly criticized by Avenida fans, suspecting that the deal was actually inked after the match between Avenida and CBK in early January.

An extraordinary first 10 minutes were nearly enough for the Turkish team to wrap up the game in what ended up being a 75-59 victory over Basket Landes (2-8). Cukurova went up 28-17 in the first stanza and reached a game-high 18-point lead midway through the second quarter.

Tiffany Hayes‘ reunion with her coach in Salamanca last year couldn’t have gone better for them: Iñiguez started his Turkish run with a victory, and Hayes led CBK with 21 points, five rebounds and five dimes. Chelsea Gray (16 points) led Cukurova with eight assists and three steals, while DeWanna Bonner (10 points) crashed the boards with a team-high eight rebounds. Elizabeth Williams an extraordinary mid-season signing got a smooth 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, showcasing her defensive chops in her second game with CBK.

Landes enjoyed a double-double by Regan Magarity (14 points and 11 rebounds), while Marie-Eve Paget (11) and Celine Dumerc (14) also reached double digits. However, all other Landes players finished the match with a plus/minus of minus-7 or worse.

Fenerbahçe earns eighth consecutive victory

Sticking with Turkish teams, Fenerbahçe demolished still-winless Olympiacos 92-58. It was Fenerbahçe’s eighth straight win and put the team alone atop Group A with an 8-2 record.

Olympiacos (0-10) only scored 15 points in the final quarter while allowing Fenerbahçe to score at least 23 in all but the third stanza. Megan Gustafson (17 points and eight rebounds) failed to get a double-double for only the third time this season and the first time in her last six games. Anna Stamolamprou and Aina Ayuso pulled down seven rebounds each and added 10 and nine points, respectively, but Olympiacos was clearly overmatched on Wednesday.

Breanna Stewart had one of her best games of the season, putting up 22 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks while shooting 9-for-13 from the field. Kayla McBride had her best game of the season, scoring 16 points and dishing out eight dimes. Three other players from Fenerbahçe scored in double digits, with Emma Meesseman and Satou Sabally also grabbing nine rebounds each.

Group A gets tight after Virtus Bologna upsets Polkowice

Virtus Bologna got a surprising 89-76 victory against this season’s Cinderella, BC Polkowice, on Wednesday. The Italian squad turned a nine-point deficit after one quarter into a seven-point win in what amounted to a 16-point turnaround.

It’s not often that you watch two players put on scoring shows such as those coming from Erica Wheeler (30 points for Polkowice) and Kitija Laksa (25 for Bologna), let alone having five other players scoring at least 13 points on the game.

Polkowice’s Stephanie Mavunga, an MVP candidate, put on another great outing with 15 points and 14 rebounds to get her eighth double-double of the season. On the opposite side, Iliana Rupert helped Virtus with 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes, the only player so far this season to put up that stat line in so few minutes.

Valencia (7-3) started the season slow, losing three of its first seven games, but it’s now on a four-game winning streak after a 75-54 victory over KSC (3-7). A 39-20 first half made it an easy day at the office for Valencia after halftime.

No player in this game logged more than 33 minutes, but seven between both teams scored in double digits, led by Lauren Cox‘s 26. KSC’s Ruthy Hebard had the only double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds), while teammate Cyesha Goree was close with 13 points and eight boards.

Finally, Praha (7-3) defeated Tango Bourges (5-5) 65-57 to force a three-team tie for second place in Group A. Alyssa Thomas had another double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds (to go with five assists and three steals) in a team-high 38 minutes. Teja Oblak was rather disappointing, finishing with seven points on 3-for-11 shooting and five turnovers. Brionna Jones grabbed 10 rebounds but scored just seven points.

Anete Steinberga (16) and Yvonne Anderson (17) were the two players carrying Tango Bourges on Wednesday; no other player from the French side scored more than seven points. Steinberga pulled down five boards, and while Anderson finished with four rebounds and five assists, she also turned the ball over four times.

DVTK upsets Sopron, Girona wins to enter top half of Group B

While Olympiacos is still winless on the season, Kangoeroes isn’t far off, sitting at 1-9 after a loss to Girona. The Spanish team beat the one from Mechelen 71-59 on Wednesday to improve to 6-4.

Girona started slow, dropping the first period 21-26 but never again losing a quarter. Brittney Sykes had a phenomenal outing with 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a steal for Girona. Laia Flores dropped 13 points while Maria Araujo pulled down 15 rebounds in helping Girona bounce back from a defeat last week.

Kangoeroes had a ridiculous pairing in Ziomara Morrison and Morgan Bertsch, with the former grabbing 16 boards and the latter scoring 17 points. They combined for 25 points and 20 rebounds on the day. But Heleen Nauwelaers was the only other player on the Belgian side in double figures or with an efficiency figure above seven.

Arella Guirantes delivered once more for DVTK (6-4) last Thursday in its Hungarian derby against Sopron (7-3). Guirantes received a pass with less than 10 seconds left on the clock, launched a 3-pointer, connected while getting fouled, and completed a four-point play to send the game to overtime.

DVTK earned its sixth win of the season by defeating the reigning EuroLeague champions 77-75 in overtime, pulling off a 15-point comeback.

Guirantes completed a 23-point, 16-rebound, four-assists, two-steal, one-block masterpiece in 41 minutes. Teammate Cheridene Green had 22 points and 11 rebounds.

The defending champions had three players in double digits and Yvonne Turner finished the match with a nearly unheard of stat line: 10 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, six steals and one block. Alyssa Thomas has the only two triple-doubles in the EuroLeague this season, but not even Thomas has achieved one with six steals. It could have been a historic night for Turner, but it didn’t end up that way for Turner or her team.

Sopron collapsed defensively in the fourth quarter after entering with a 10-point lead. That said, Jelena Brooks was her usual self, scoring 21 points, while Ezi Magbegor contributed 15. Each also added seven rebounds. Sopron is tied with Famila Schio for the top spot in Group B.

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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