March 4, 2023
EuroLeague Week 14: Postseason matchups set, playoffs tip off on March 14
The reigning champions had a foot and a half out of the playoffs, but they snuck back in
Two EuroLeague playoff spots were still up for grabs entering Wednesday’s eight-game slate. By the end of the day, the Spanish Clasico between Avenida and Girona, won by the former, settled the dust and helped Avenida and Sopron (which lost to Famila Schio) punch their playoff tickets.
Girona got the better of Avenida (74-48) back in Week 7 in the biggest loss of the season for the Salamanca-based team. But things were very different on Wednesday as Avenida defeated its long-time rival 74-63, leading for all but a minute midway through the second stanza.
Michaela Onyenwere and Andrea Vilaro led Avenida with 13 points each while Bridget Carleton scored 11 and Maite Cazorla had nine. Those four players were the key for Avenida’s victory over a Girona squad that had two players above everyone else: Rebekah Gardner (22 points) and Maria Araujo (six points, 15 rebounds, four assists). No other Girona player had a double-digit efficiency.
Girona’s loss opened the door for Sopron to make the EuroLeague postseason, although not on its own merits. The reigning champions had a foot and a half out of the playoffs after a 50-81 loss against Famila Schio on Wednesday. Sopron kept its head above water through the first half, trailing by just seven points, but Famila Schio outscored Sopron 45-21 in the final two quarters. Sopron will need to improve a lot to make the Final Four this season, especially with Fenerbahçe looming in the first round.
Famila Schio outperformed Sopron on all fronts except for steals (10 to 13) and double-doubles, as Sopron’s Ezi Magbegor got the lone double-double of the game with 11 points and 10 boards. But Jelena Brooks (13 points) was her only teammate who scored more than six points.
The Italian team boasted four double-digit scorers with Marina Mabrey‘s 23 leading the way (she also fell just one rebound short of a double-double). Rhyne Howard had an extraordinary performance, putting up 17 points, four rebounds, three steals and three assists with just one turnover. And Astou Ndour-Fall, Jasmine Keys and Kim Mestdagh combined for 28 points, 21 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and two blocks.
CBK edges Mechelen to clinch No. 1 seed, Basket Landes upsets DVTK
In the other two games in Group B, the seeding got finalized with CBK earning the No. 1 seed after a 69-62 victory over Mechelen. CBK fended off a last-quarter effort by the Belgian team, which entered the fourth period facing a double-digit deficit but bridged that gap into dangerous territory for CBK.
Ultimately, the Turkey-based squad won its 10th game of the season and fifth in a row, led by an impressive Elizabeth Williams, who had 14 points, seven rebounds, four steals and four blocks. Tiffany Hayes scored a team-high 19 points, only bested by Lisa Berkani‘s 20 points for Kangoeroes.
Ziomara Morrison‘s 12-point, 13-rebound double-double (with four assists and three steals) couldn’t save the Belgian team. Laura Cornelius (for CBK) and Morgan Bertsch (for Kangoeroes) scored 12 points each.
French side Basket Landes won for the fourth time this season after beating DVTK 72-63 to wrap up both clubs’ EuroLeague regular seasons. This was an unexpected outcome considering what we had watched through the first 13 weeks of the EuroLeague season. Except for a good first quarter, the Hungarian side DVTK never got it right against Landes, and losing the final quarter 24-16 completely ended its chances at getting the win.
Reka Bernath and Monika Grigalauskyte scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds each for DVTK, outperforming their season averages. Meanwhile, Arella Guirantes and Cheridene Green (the steady leaders of DVTK all year long) combined for a measly 13 points and six rebounds.
Something similar happened on Landes’ side, with four players scoring in double digits but Marine Fauthoux struggling mightily and turning the ball over a game-high four times. Marie-Eve Paget had 16 points; Regan Magarity got herself a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds); veteran Celine Dumerc scored 13 (on the day of her retirement from European competition after reaching 2,000 points); and Kendra Chery came out of left field with an eight-point, 10-rebound, three-steal outing.
Fenerbahçe and Praha lead Group A as only teams with double-digit victories
Fenerbahçe and Praha didn’t take the day off on Wednesday, but you could have believed so judging by their respective 11- and 21-point victories to wrap up the regular season.
The Turkish team entered the last week of play having already clinched the No. 1 seed in Group A, so it had room to play around. Yet it didn’t quite do that against Tango Bourges (which had also already qualified for the postseason), beating Bourges 90-79 and winning its 12th consecutive game after starting the season with a 0-2 record.
All five Fenerbahçe starters scored at least nine points, four scored in double figures, and three scored 17 or more, led by Breanna Stewart‘s 18-point, 11-rebound double-double. Kayla McBride finished with six steals on the day, and Emma Meesseman had an all-around outing with 17 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Kayla Alexander finished with 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the floor while also pulling down 13 rebounds for a monster efficiency of 34, the eighth-highest figure by any player in the EuroLeague 2022-23 season. Three other Bourges players dropped 11-plus points, while Elodie Godin got the second-most rebounds among her teammates with seven.
Praha had it easy against Bologna, winning 71-50. Virtus Bologna struggled all day, scoring more than 12 points in a single quarter just once. That happens sometimes when you face the demolishing pair of Alyssa Thomas (eight points, 14 rebounds, nine assists) and Brionna Jones (17-point, 10-rebound double-double), let alone when those two get some help. Three teammates each had at least three steals, and Teja Oblak had nine points and nine assists.
Virtus enjoyed a nice outing by Iliana Rupert (13 points, nine rebounds and three assists) but only boasted a couple of double-digit scorers (Alessandra Orsili being the other one with 12). Only Rupert had an efficiency above 11.
Polkowice reacts too late
After starting the year with a 6-1 record in its EuroLeague debut, Polkowice floundered in the second half of the season and ultimately got eliminated from the postseason in Week 13. That rendered its impressive 94-76 victory over KSC on Wednesday useless.
Six players from the Polish team scored 10 or more points against KSC, led by Zala Friskovec’s 24-point outing. Erica Wheeler bagged 15 points to go with 12 assists, and teammate Weronika Telenga also had a double-double with 12 boards and 10 points. Liliana Banaszak could have made it a trio of double-doubles, but she fell one rebound short.
For KSC, Sydney Wallace‘s 20 points led the way for the Hungarian team, which also had three other players scoring 12, 16 and 17 points but no one else getting more than six points. That top-heavy scoring without support from the second unit, along with a collective struggle on the glass (18 rebounds to Polkowice’s 36), made for the perfect losing combination.
Olympiacos loses again
Megan Gustafson went back to her double-double ways with a 22-point, 10-rebound performance, but not even that could help Olympiacos on Wednesday as the Greek side lost 65-55 to Valencia. Olympiacos finished its first EuroLeague season with a 1-13 record, while Valencia earned the ninth win of its debut campaign and holds the No. 3 seed in Group A.
Four players from Olympiacos logged at least 30 minutes while only one from Valencia did so in a very contrasting use of player rotations. Aina Ayuso scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out five dimes for Olympiacos on her way to an efficiency of 19. But no player from the Greek team besides Gustafson reached an efficiency of even six on Wednesday.
Valencia, on the other hand, had four players scoring at least 10 points and reaching efficiency marks of 10 or higher. Raquel Carrera only scored seven points but had a 10-plus efficiency game, while Lauren Cox led the Spanish team in blocks and rebounds with three and six, respectively.
The EuroLeague moves on to the first round of the postseason with four matchups tipping off in two weeks, on March 14. We’ll preview each series next week!