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EuroLeague Women Preview (Week 6): Mabrey, Riga look to build upon upset of the season

Marina Mabrey and TTT Riga are fresh off one of the biggest upset victories in recent EuroLeague Women memory. Who will be the stars of Week 6?

Indiana Fever v Los Angeles Sparks
Last week, Sparks guard Marina Mabrey led TTT Riga to a seemingly impossible win over UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

It’s a good thing basketball is played on wood, not paper. Otherwise, we’d be robbed of some truly magical moments.

Take last week’s matchup between EuroLeague Women (ELW) powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg and TTT Riga as an example. Ekaterinburg is a club with immense talent, featuring Brittney Griner, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, Jonquel Jones, Emma Meesseman, Maria Vadeeva and Jamierra Faulkner. Riga, meanwhile, entered the game at 0-4 on the ELW season, over-matched at each respective position and playing arguably the worst basketball in the competition.

Impossible? Not quite. Riga pulled off the improbable upset over Ekaterinburg, one that head coach Martins Zibarts called, “The biggest victory in the history of Latvian women’s club basketball since Latvia regained independence.”

Quite the statement.

Hopefully ELW has your attention now. If it doesn’t, what better time to start watching than today? The best international women’s basketball competition in the world is still being streamed for free on YouTube. Read up on this week’s matchups. You never know what magic they could have in store.

Wednesday, Dec. 4

UMMC Ekaterinburg (4-1) vs. Bourges Basket (3-2)

When: 9:00 a.m. ET

Where: DIVS Sport Hall, Ekaterinburg

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: Ekaterinburg will look to take last week’s frustrations out on Bourges, which has won three straight games behind the strong play of Marissa Coleman. Bourges recently signed Natalie Achonwa, though it is unknown if she’ll be up to speed in time for this game. If she is, she’ll be a huge help in dealing with Ekaterinburg’s massive frontcourt.

Nadezhda (3-2) vs. TTT Riga (1-4)

When: 9:00 a.m. ET

Where: Orenburzhje Sport Hall, Orenburg

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: Did Riga catch lightning in a bottle last week? We’ll find out soon enough when it takes on Nadezhda, which recently added Temi Fagbenle to a roster already featuring Yvonne Turner, Erica Wheeler and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe. Despite its WNBA talent, Nadezhda’s cumulative point differential is just +4. This is a game in which the Russian club needs to take care of business.

Dynamo Kursk (2-3) vs. Sopron Basket (2-3)

When: 11:00 a.m. ET

Where: Sport Concert Complex, Kursk

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: Both Kursk and Sopron have been disappointing in EuroLeague play thus far, especially considering that neither club has won since the second week of the competition. On Kursk’s end, at least, it’s hard to see the struggles continuing for much longer. The club announced that it had signed Glory Johnson, who will join DeWanna Bonner, Epiphanny Prince, Jessica Breland and Marta Xargay as names familiar to WNBA faithful.

Castors Braine (2-3) vs. Gelecek Koleji Çukurova (2-3)

When: 12:15 p.m. ET

Where: Spiroudome, Charleroi

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: Çukurova recently loaded up on WNBA talent, but that didn’t help last week: The Turkish club was blown out once again. Given the team’s EuroLeague-worst point differential of -90, Çukurova needs not only to win against Castors Braine, but to win handily — lest the team digs a hole too deep to climb out of.

Reyer Venezia (1-4) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (4-1)

When: 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Palasport Taliercio, Venice

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: There might not be a team that benefits more from Ekaterinburg’s surprising loss last week than Praha. Alyssa Thomas and company are once again tied with Ekaterinburg atop Group A while boasting a far superior point differential (+107). Praha must now keep its foot on the gas against Reyer Venezia, which has lost four straight.

BLMA (3-2) vs. Fenerbahçe Öznur Kablo (4-1)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Palais des Sports de Lattes, Lattes

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: Fenerbahçe has quietly established itself as the top team in Group B, winning its last three games while lowering its average points allowed on the season to 57.8. A win in this game would put some distance between the big-name Turkish club and BLMA, which currently sits in third place. Elizabeth Williams and Kiah Stokes will have their hands full with Stephanie Mavunga, though, who continues to put up outstanding scoring (19.9 points) and rebounding (12.3 rebounds) numbers per game.

Thursday, Dec. 5

LDLC ASVEL Féminin (2-3) vs. Arka Gdynia (2-3)

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

Where: Gymnase Mado Bonnet, Lyon

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: LDLC ASVEL Féminin has been quite the up-and-down team thus far, following each loss with a win five weeks into the competition. Gdynia, on the other hand, has been much more stable, starting at 0-3 but winning its last two games. With five teams in Group B sitting at 2-3, there’s still a lot of parity, so this game could end up being a deciding factor down the road.

Familia Schio (3-2) vs. Spar Citylift Girona (2-3)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Pala Campagnola, Schio

How to watch: FIBA YouTube Live Stream

Matchup details: While Schio is still above .500, its lack of scoring (58.6 points per game, 15th in EuroLeague) is getting to be concerning. Diamond DeShields (28.3 percent shooting) must play better this week against Girona and Brittney Sykes, who dropped 23 points in her last game.