November 19, 2022 

EuroLeague Week 4: No undefeated teams remain

Spanish teams keep winning and Emma Meesseman makes her EuroLeague season debut

It took a month of play, but after four weeks and with the EuroLeague entering its first (three-week) break, there are no more undefeated teams!

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Thanks to an extraordinary effort by Polish side BC Polkowice in an 83-80 win against USK Praha, there are now seven teams tied at 3-1 between Group A and Group B.

Polkowice’s defense was fantastic, limiting Praha to 21% 3-point shooting and blocking seven shots. Both teams logged 10-0 runs, though Praha’s served only to close a 14-point gap in the third quarter.

Things got tight at the end of the game, with Sasa Cadjo hitting the game-winning 3-pointer with 2:12 on the clock. Stephanie Mavunga added a couple of points a minute later to make it 83-80 for Polkowice, and Praha missed its last six field-goal attempts.

The game lived up to the high expectations, as three players from it earned the highest efficiency marks of the week. Mavunga was the MVP thanks to a ridiculous 25-point, 17-rebound, four-block outing (efficiency of 36) in just 30 minutes. Two players from Praha were close to those heights: Alyssa Thomas put up a double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds, six steals, four assists) and Valeriane Vukosavljevic finished with 28 points, six boards, four dimes and four thefts.

Trio of Spanish teams keep up their winning ways

What a Tuesday for all three Spanish teams in the EuroLeague! Valencia, Avenida and most impressively Girona won their matchups for the second week in a row. All three are now sitting at the top of their groups with 3-1 records through the first third of the season.

Girona faced the ultimate test, hosting reigning champion Sopron at home. In a low-scoring affair in which the teams combined to make just five 3-pointers, Girona fended off Sopron, 63-60. Girona started the game 3-0 but didn’t lead again until early in the fourth period. Sopron had a (literal) shot at tying the game with seven seconds on the clock, but a 3-point attempt was blocked by Irati Etxarri.

It wasn’t a game full of individual excellence, but three players from each side reached double figures, with Jelena Brooks’ 15 points leading Sopron. Rebekah Gardner (15 points, five rebounds) was the leading scorer for Girona, while Maria Araujo struggled, shooting 37.5% from the field on 16 attempts and finishing with 13 points and seven boards. For Sopron, Ezi Magbegor and Brittney Sykes failed to hit 10 points but contributed across the board with a combined 10 rebounds, five dimes, five steals and three blocks.

It wasn’t nearly as close as the final result showed for Avenida in its 79-72 win over Belgian side Kangoeroes on Tuesday. The Spaniards were only up three points with seven minutes left in the third period, but everything turned sour for Mechelen from that point on. Avenida embarked on a scoring binge and pushed the margin to 16 points with just five minutes to go.

Kangoeroes got demolished on the glass, getting outrebounded 39 to 21 and grabbing just five offensive boards to Avenida’s 13. Those offensive boards turned into 18 second-chance points for the Spanish side. The only statistic in which the Belgian team led was in personal fouls, which tells you all you need to know about this affair. Even then, four players from Mechelen dropped 12-plus points, with Lisa Berkani and Morgan Bertsch both scoring 19. Turnovers killed Kangoeroes, though, with Bertsch losing five possessions and Laure Resimont four.

Avenida enjoyed a bright day from Mariella Fasoula (19 points), while Erica McCall (15 points, five boards), Maite Cazorla (16 points, six assists) and Aleksandra Crvendakic (six points, 11 rebounds, seven dimes) also reached double digits in one statistical category each.

Finally, it is fair to call it a bounceback from Valencia for the past three weeks and change. Valencia defeated fellow EuroLeague newcomer Virtus Bologna in its first game of the season, only to lose against Praha one week later. But the Spanish side earned victories against KSC a week ago and Tango Bourges on Tuesday by a 76-68 score.

Employing a rare 12-player rotation, Valencia outperformed a French side led by Yvonne Anderson and her 35 minutes of playing time. No other Bourges player logged more than 27, while no one from Valencia topped 31. Anderson was extraordinary, scoring 20 points to go with five assists, three rebounds, two steals and one block. Her teammate Laetitia Guapo contributed 10 points, six boards, five steals and four assists while Elodie Godin pulled down 12 rebounds.

Valencia’s Lauren Cox (13), Alba Torrens (14), Raquel Carrera (12) and Marie Gulich (10) scored in double figures while also grabbing at least four rebounds and dishing out one assist each. Valencia left it late, not separating from Bourges until the fourth period.

KSC and Fenerbahçe keep improving their records

How odd is it to find KSC and Fenerbahçe together in such a sentence? Last season, KSC finished 0-14 while Fenerbahçe made it all the way to the EuroLeague final after closing the regular season with a 13-1 record. This year, after a month of play, both teams boast the same record of 2-2 and are battling for fourth place in Group A.

Of course, one of those two teams will find a lot of reasons to celebrate this early run, while the other won’t be so happy about it.

KSC is coming off its second victory of the season after defeating Olympiacos 78-69 on Tuesday. While it’s been a bumpy road to date for KSC, alternating wins and losses, the Hungarian side had already beaten Fenerbahçe and have now defeated the best team from the qualifiers.

Olympiacos, as has been the case all season, opted for a top-heavy rotation, with Megan Gustafson (37 minutes), Angeliki Nikolopoulou (37), Kylee Shook (36) and Aina Ayuso (33) all playing more than 30 minutes. Three of them reached double figures, with Gustafson getting a game-high 23 to go with nine rebounds, but none of them finished with a positive plus-minus.

None of the KSC starters topped 33 minutes of play, but Cyesha Goree and Victoria Vivians scored 19 points each while Ruthy Hebard added 15. Goree’s efficiency of 29 came from pairing that scoring with 13 boards (along with four dimes and two steals), while Agnes Studer contributed 11 dimes and four steals.

Emma Meesseman returned for Fenerbahçe for the first time last weekend in its domestic league after getting injured with the Belgian national team in September. She then debuted in the EuroLeague this season on Tuesday with an extraordinary performance that made it look like she had not skipped a beat: 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block.

Teammate Natasha Howard dropped 17 points while Kayla McBride (11), Ivana Raca (10) and Alperi Onar (10) also hit double figures in Fenerbahçe’s 85-67 trouncing of Bologna.

Currently boasting a minus-4 point difference (287 points for, 291 against through four games), Bologna is having a rough debut season in the EuroLeague. Iliana Rupert‘s 17-point, 10-rebound double-double didn’t help, and neither did Cecilia Zandalasini‘s 18 points. Cheyenne Parker played 27 minutes but had a game to forget, contributing just four points, two rebounds and one steal while turning the ball over twice and hitting only two of her seven field goal attempts.

Landes winless in Group B; Jonquel Jones lifts Cukurova

Landes dropped its fourth game of the season, has yet to win a match, and could be staring at a very long year if things don’t take a 180-degree turn after the break. The French side got destroyed 58-78 by Famila Schio on Tuesday, and although it was only down two points in the second quarter, things got ugly from there.

Schio scored in bunches and led by as many as 21 points. Marina Mabrey scored 23 points to go with four boards, five dimes and a couple of steals. Jasmine Keys had a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double; Astou Ndour had 15 points; and Martina Bestagno and Rhyne Howard added seven each.

Landes at least had Regan Magarity, who had 15 points and six rebounds but finished with a plus-minus of minus-17. Lidija Turcinovic, though, was the worst player on that front at minus-28 in 24 minutes, the third-lowest mark from a player this season.

Jonquel Jones made her presence felt in her third game with Cukurova this season, registering her third double-double. She finished Wednesday’s only game with 15 points and 15 rebounds along with one dime, one steal and one block. She is now averaging a gaudy 19.7 points, 14.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and one steal per game, making her the only player averaging a double-double and 1-1-1 in the other three main statistical categories.

No wonder Cukurova easily dealt with the Hungarian side DVTK in a 77-58 victory that marked the largest point differential this week. Not even an otherworldly performance by Arella Guirantes, approaching a triple-double, was enough to keep DVTK close. Guirantes’ 24-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist, four-steal outing is the first 20-8-8-4 game this season and one of only three 15-8-8-4 lines so far.

Cukurova started the season slowly (albeit against two Final Four participants from last season) but now has two consecutive victories. All four of its WNBA imports are already on the roster (Briann January, DeWanna Bonner, Tiffany Hayes and Jones) and performing up to expectations.

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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