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EuroLeague Women Preview: Offensively-challenged Cukurova brings in WNBA reinforcements

EuroLeague Women resumes play on Wednesday, and one Turkish club will look drastically different than it did before the break. Alex Bentley, Morgan Tuck and LaToya Sanders have signed with the team to help turn its season around.

Connecticut Sun Vs Seattle Storm
Once teammates on the Connecticut Sun, Morgan Tuck and Alex Bentley (center) will reunite on Turkish club Gelecek Koleji Çukurova. They’ll be joined by the Washington Mystics’ LaToya Sanders.
Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Welcome back to EuroLeague Women!

After a two-week hiatus, FIBA’s premiere women’s basketball competition is back in action. The landscape remains mostly the same, though some clubs have negotiated deals with key international players — some that WNBA fans are bound to recognize.

One such club is Gelecek Koleji Çukurova, who you may remember as scoring a league record-low 28 points in a game back in Week 3. It’s safe to say that won’t be happening again: Alex Bentley, Morgan Tuck and LaToya Sanders were all announced to have signed with the club via its official Twitter account.

Which other EuroLeague teams made moves over the break? Who is in a position to advance in their respective groups? Can anyone beat UMMC Ekaterinburg (well, probably not)? Let’s get our international basketball back on track with Week 5 of EuroLeague Women.

Wednesday, Nov. 27

Fenerbahçe Öznur Kablo (3-1) vs. Familia Schio (3-1)

When: 11:30 a.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: Despite Diamond DeShields’ struggles (26.3 percent shooting), Schio finds itself tied with Fenerbahçe atop Group B. Fenerbahçe has the clear advantage in point differential (+41), however. Schio will need to hit some shots early or this game won’t be as close as the records make it seem.

TTT Riga (0-4) vs. UMMC Ekaterinburg (4-0)

When: 12:00 p.m. ET

Where: Olympic Sports Centre, Riga

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: Riga made a swap of its own over the recent break, signing Sparks rookie guard Marina Mabrey after Linnae Harper left the club. Mabrey’s presence will likely have little effect on the outcome of this game, however, with Ekaterinburg’s WNBA All-Star-studded squad still intact. The 4-0 UMMC Ekaterinburg is highly favored.

ZVVZ USK Praha (3-1) vs. Nadezhda (3-1)

When: 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: Královka Arena, Prague

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: USK Praha lost the battle of the titans against Ekaterinburg in Week 4, but that’s by no means an indictment of the team’s talent. This is going to be another game in which team records might not predict a close final score. As long as Praha has Alyssa Thomas (20.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game) going, Nadezhda might find it hard to keep up.

Reyer Venezia (1-3) vs. Castors Braine (1-3)

When: 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Palasport Taliercio, Venice

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: Neither of these clubs has seen a win since at least the second week of the competition, and both have glaring weaknesses. Castors Braine ranks third in EuroLeague Women in rebounding (42.8 per game), but struggles to score. Meanwhile, Reyer Venezia’s 20 assists per game are among tops in the competition but the team has little success on the boards. We’ll see which club can best assert its respective strengths.

Bourges Basket (2-2) vs. Gelecek Koleji Çukurova (2-2)

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

Where: Palais Des Sports Du Prado, Bourges

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: Seeing as how Çukurova’s new group of WNBA players will likely dominate the team’s statistical categories from here on, one almost has to throw out those stats from the first four weeks completely. This is the perfect opportunity for the Turkish club to put itself ahead of Bourges (who won the teams’ previous two games before the break) ahead of the Group A standings.

BLMA (2-2) vs. LDLC ASVEL Féminin (2-2)

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

Where: Palais Des Sports, Lattes

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: Here we have a game between two French clubs, ones that the stats would suggest are fairly evenly matched. Not only are BLMA and LDLC ASVEL Féminin tied in Group B (2-2), their point differentials are nearly identical as well, with BLMA sitting at -2 and LDLC ASVEL Féminin at +/-0 through four games. Gabby Williams, Stephanie Mavunga and Marine Johannès will be the WNBA players to watch in this game.

Spar Citylift Girona (1-3) vs. Dynamo Kursk (2-2)

When: 2:15 p.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Girona, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: Kursk’s 2-2 record is one of the more disappointing ones in EuroLeague Women thus far. The team will get a significant boost, however, with the addition of Jessica Breland. Breland will join Epiphanny Prince and DeWanna Bonner to create a formidable core of WNBA talent, one that should have little trouble with Girona this week.

Thursday, Nov. 28

Sopron Basket (2-2) vs. Arka Gdynia (1-3)

When: 12:00 p.m. ET

Where: Aréna Sopron, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Matchup details: Arka Gdynia was finally able to get into the win column before the break, while Sopron has lost its last two games. Interestingly, Gdynia is scoring 59.8 points per game (lowest in EuroLeague Women) while Sopron is allowing 59.8 points per game. Don’t be surprised if this one turns out to be a low-scoring contest.