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EuroLeague Women Preview: Fenerbahçe, Ekaterinburg seek 3-0 finishes in first hub of group play

The December hub of EuroLeague Women regular-season games finishes on Friday, and it’s to no one’s surprise that Fenerbahçe and UMMC Ekaterinburg have been the cream of the crop.

Fenerbahçe was all smiles after moving to 2-0 on the EuroLeague Women regular season.
Photo courtesy of EuroLeague Women via Twitter

We’re already three days into the EuroLeague Women regular season and this Friday will be the last of the December “hub” of games.

Despite the compact, somewhat chaotic nature of the schedule (which has been further complicated by Turkish teams Galatasaray and Izmit Belediyespor not playing in the December hub due to COVID-19 disruptions), it’s already fairly clear which teams will be competing for the EuroLeague Women crown. UMMC Ekaterinburg, to no one’s surprise, is on top in Group C thanks to strong play from Jonquel Jones (20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds through two games), Courtney Vandersloot (13.5 points and 7 assists) and Maria Vadeeva (14.5 points and 7 rebounds).

Elsewhere, Fenerbahçe is off to a solid 2-0 start in an ultra-competitive Group B. Satou Sabally, who is averaging 26.5 points per game for Fenerbahçe, has been a revelation, and it’s now unlikely that the team will miss the playoffs because of its strong start.

Still, there’s plenty yet to be decided.

Arike Ogunbowale and Dynamo Kursk have been off since Tuesday, when they were upset by fellow Russian club and Group A rival Nadezhda. Don’t be surprised if Kursk has a chip on its shoulder on Friday.

Perfumerias Avenida, meanwhile, made a strong statement in its first game of the season with a 28-point victory; the Spanish club will be a good matchup for Kursk, especially if Tiffany Hayes (21 points in Avenida’s first game) rises to the challenge Ogunbowale presents.

As always, you can catch all the action live and for free on FIBA’s YouTube channel. Here’s Friday’s full slate of games:

Friday, December 4

Fenerbahçe (2-0) vs. LDLC ASVEL Féminin (1-1)

When: 9:00 a.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: Fenerbahçe was without Jasmine Thomas (hamstring) on Thursday, but that didn’t hinder the Turkish club from improving to 2-0. Satou Sabally (23 points on Thursday) and Kayla McBride (22 points) continue playing magnificent basketball, and Fenerbahçe will be favored against an LDLC ASVEL Féminin team coming off a tough loss to ZVVZ USK Praha. Don’t count Marine Johannès out too soon, though — the dynamic guard scored 38 points against Praha, including a pair of late 3-pointers that nearly stole the victory.

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

When: 10:30 a.m. ET

Where: Novomatic Arèna, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: Landes earned its first-ever EuroLeague women win — an overtime victory over fellow French club Bourges — and is now back for more against Sopron, which has been off since Tuesday. Gabby Williams played well for Sopron in its first game of the season, racking up 19 points and 5 rebounds, while Briann January chipped in 18 points and 4 assists. They’ll need to keep it up against Landes’ strong core of veteran international talent.

Dynamo Kursk (0-1) vs. Perfumerias Avenida (1-0)

When: 11:00 a.m. ET

Where: Caferaga Sport Saloon, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: This could be Friday’s best game, if for no reason other than the Ogunbowale vs. Hayes matchup. There are plenty of other big names between the two teams: Stephanie Mavunga, Amanda Zahui B. and Alex Bentley round things out for Kursk, while Karlie and Katie Lou Samuelson play for Avenida. Make it a point to catch this one!

UMMC Ekaterinburg (2-0) vs. TTT Riga (0-2)

When: 11:00 a.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: EuroLeague Women fans will see this matchup and immediately think of last season’s improbable Riga victory over Ekaterinburg, one that was hailed as one of the biggest moments in international basketball history. Of course, it did little to change the outcome of the season — Ekaterinburg finished 13-1 and Riga 3-11 — and given Ekaterinburg’s wealth of WNBA talent, Riga will be facing similarly improbable odds in Friday’s matchup.

Arka Gdynia (0-2) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (1-1)

When: 12:00 p.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: With three of the four teams in Group B having serious playoff potential, Praha can’t afford to fall behind. Alyssa Thomas has, per usual, been one of the top players in EuroLeague Women, but her team has been unimpressive so far, most recently coming out flat against LDLC ASVEL Féminin and barely surviving. Gdynia is a team that Praha must defeat if it’s going to stay in the race.

Spar Girona (1-1) vs. Famila Schio (1-1)

When: 2:00 p.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube livestream

Matchup details: This may not seem like a very intriguing matchup on the surface, but after Ekaterinburg, Group C’s second playoff spot is still completely up for grabs. Sonja Vasić (née Petrović) has been on fire for Girona thus far in the competition, averaging 18 points per game on 58.3 percent shooting from the field. Vasić, Chelsea Gray and Frida Eldebrink will lead Girona against Schio, which has one of the better frontcourts in the competition with both Sandrine Gruda and Natalie Achonwa.