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EuroLeague Women Preview: With rising star Sabally, Fenerbahçe seeks 2-0 start in competitive Group B

It didn’t take Satou Sabally long to make a good impression on her new EuroLeague Women team. Sabally scored an easy 30 points in her debut, and Fenerbahçe faithful are bound to be even more excited about their team’s potential in the competition’s toughest group.

Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo v USK Praha - FIBA EuroLeague Women
Satou Sabally (with ball) and Fenerbahçe took it right to Group B rivals Alyssa Thomas and ZVVZ USK Praha on EuroLeague Women’s opening day of action.
Photo by Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

With EuroLeague Women’s new four-group regular-season competition system, the games are more important than ever. Only two teams from each group will make the postseason, making just about every game a must-win.

That’s especially true in Group B, which is likely the strongest of the four groups. Fenerbahçe and ZVVZ USK Praha are among the top teams in the league this season, but LDLC ASVEL Féminin shouldn’t be counted out — especially not after Day 1 of the competition.

Fenerbahçe and ZVVZ USK Praha went at it on opening day, with the former coming out on top in a tightly-contested game featuring plenty of WNBA-level star power. Fenerbahçe’s victory was highlighted by an incredible performance by Satou Sabally: 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting and 11 rebounds. Sabally’s performance earned her Top Performer honors for Day 1.

If Sabally plays as well Thursday as she did on Tuesday, Fenerbahçe will be sitting pretty at 2-0 before ZVVZ USK Praha and LDLC ASVEL Féminin battle it out later in the day. Elsewhere, Basket Landes will play its first game of the EuroLeague Women season against fellow French club Bourges Basket, while Russian superteam UMMC Ekaterinburg unleashes its all-world level of talent on Chelsea Gray and Spar Girona.

Thursday, December 3

Arka Gdynia (0-1) vs. Fenerbahçe (1-0)

When: 9:00 a.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: Fenerbahçe led off the 2020-21 season with a thrilling win over Group A rival Praha. The Turkish club will get Arka Gdynia next, which should decisively favor Fenerbahçe; it’s hard to see Gdynia keeping up with the waves of WNBA talent Fenerbahçe brings, especially after an opening-day blowout loss to LDLC ASVEL Féminin.

Famila Schio (0-1) vs. TTT Riga (0-1)

When: 11:00 a.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: It’s Ekaterinburg and everyone else in Group C, so group games not involving the Russian giant will always be interesting. Riga suffered an achingly close loss against Girona on Day 1, whereas Schio will be looking to prove it’s the second-best team in the group after taking a beating from Ekaterinburg.

ZVVZ USK Praha (0-1) vs. LDLC ASVEL Féminin (1-0)

When: 12:00 p.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: Alyssa Thomas stuffed the box score (16 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals) on Tuesday, but she’ll need more help from Brionna Jones and the rest of the team is Praha is to avoid an 0-2 start. LDLC ASVEL Féminin, meanwhile, is riding high after an 89-57 opening-day win, the largest margin of victory thus far in the 2020-21 season. We’ll see if Alysha Clark and company can repeat their 52.2 percent shooting against a tough Praha defense.

Basket Landes (0-0) vs. Bourges Basket (0-1)

When: 12:00 p.m. ET

Where: Novomatic Arèna, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: Basket Landes, which currently sits atop the Ligue Féminine de Basketball with a 7-0 record, makes its 2020-21 EuroLeague Women debut against rival French club Bourges, which is 5-0 in the Ligue. French basketball legend Celine Dumerc leads Landes against Bourges, which will look to bounce back after scoring just 60 points against Sopron in Day 1.

Spar Girona (1-0) vs. UMMC Ekaterinburg (1-0)

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: Breanna Stewart (3-for-10 shooting) didn’t play at her usual stellar level in Ekaterinburg’s opener, but it didn’t matter much as the rest of the team’s stars powered a 22-point win over Famila Schio. Ekaterinburg will be heavily favored against Girona, which will need a huge effort from point guard Chelsea Gray if it’s going to pull off an upset.