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EuroLeague Women: Arike Ogunbowale, Dynamo Kursk take on Kaela Davis, Galatasaray in key Group B matchup

Dynamo Kursk and Galatasaray enter Week 9 of EuroLeague Women action with .500 records. They’ll face off in a pivotal Group B matchup as Arike Ogunbowale, Kaela Davis and more big WNBA names take the court.

Galatasaray will need another big scoring game from Kaela Davis if it’s going to get back on track in Group B.
Image courtesy of EuroLeague Women (@EuroLeagueWomen) via Twitter

WNBA stars such as Arike Ogunbowale, Natasha Howard and Kaela Davis will take center stage in a critical EuroLeague Women matchup between Dynamo Kursk and Galatasaray on Wednesday. It’s one of several games to keep your eye on during the competition’s ninth week of action.

Both Kursk (Russia) and Galatasaray (Turkey) enter the week at 4-4 and they are currently in fifth and sixth place, respectively, in Group B. While there is still plenty of basketball remaining in the 2021-22 EuroLeague Women regular season (the playoffs don’t start until late February), only the top four teams in each group qualify for the competition’s playoffs, and the Group B standings are still pretty tight, so both Kursk and Galatasaray need Wednesday’s game.

Kursk, in particular, has the star power to lean on in big situations — perhaps none bigger than that of Arike Ogunbowale. She’s carried her penchant for clutch play over from the WNBA and had one of her better EuroLeague Women performances last week, knocking down four 3-pointers and recording three steals in a Kursk victory over VBW Arka Gdynia. Factor in multi-talented forwards in Howard (16.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game) and Eva Lisec (14.1 points, six rebounds and 2.1 steals per game) and Kursk has the high-end talent to hang with any team in Group B.

Galatasaray is a bit banged up at the moment —Riquna Williams is currently nursing a back injury — and got blown out by rival club Fenerbahçe last week, so a win over Kursk would go a long way in reestablishing some momentum. Kaela Davis remains a bright spot for Galatasaray, having averaged 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in her last two games. She’ll need to do some heavy lifting against her former WNBA teammate Ogunbowale if Galatasaray is to come out on top.

Other intriguing Week 9 matchups include a game between Beretta Famila Schio (5-3) and Spar Girona (5-3) — two clubs currently ranked at the top of Group B — and a Tuesday afternoon appetizer of sorts featuring UMMC Ekaterinburg (8-0) and Umana Reyer (3-5). You can catch all these games and more on FIBA’s YouTube channel; in the meantime, let’s see what else is on the schedule for Week 9 of EuroLeague Women.

Tuesday, December 14

UMMC Ekaterinburg (8-0) vs. Umana Reyer (3-5)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Palasport Taliercio, Venice

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Jonquel Jones, Brittney Griner, Allie Quigley, Emma Meesseman, Maria Vadeeva, Alba Torrens, Alex Bentley (UMMC Ekaterinburg); Astou Ndour-Fall, Kayla Thornton, Yvonne Anderson (Umana Reyer)

Matchup details: Another day, another notch in the win column during Ektaterinburg’s march towards perfection. The Russian superteam coasted to a 75-60 victory over Riga in its most recent game — perhaps a welcome result after its prior barnburner against Avenida. Back in Week 2, Reyer played Ekaterinburg as tough as could have been expected, though Jones, Griner and Quigley were all absent at the time. While Anderson is perfectly capable of carrying Reyer’s offense for a quarter or two, the Italian club will need a much stronger all-around effort from a roster that currently ranks 13th among the competition’s 16 teams in scoring if it’s going to topple Ekaterinburg.

Wednesday, December 15

Perfumerias Avenida (6-2) vs. TTT Riga (3-5)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Rimi Olympic Centre, Riga

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Kahleah Copper, Katie Lou Samuelson, Karlie Samuelson, Bella Alarie, Emese Hof, Silvia Dominguez, Maite Cazorla (Perfumerias Avenida); Daugilė Šarauskaitė, Ieva Pulvere (TTT Riga)

Matchup details: Riga’s record may not be impressive, but it’s beaten the teams it’s supposed to have beaten thus far. Avenida, however, probably doesn’t meet that description; the Spanish club was a 72-41 winner when it ran into Riga back in Week 2, and it’s only gotten stronger since then, having added Kahleah Copper (31.3 points per game). This may simply be a bad matchup for Riga — it ranks last in EuroLeague Women in both scoring (58.3 points per game) and distributing (13.9 assists per game), which is a stark contrast to Avenida’s exciting, free-flowing offense.

Dynamo Kursk (4-4) vs. Galatasaray (4-4)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Şehit Mustafa Özel Spor Kompleksi, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Arike Ogunbowale, Natasha Howard, Epiphanny Prince, Eva Lisec (Dynamo Kursk); Kaela Davis, Riquna Williams, Tina Krajišnik, Anete Šteinberga (Galatasaray)

Matchup details: Kursk squeaked past Galatasaray the last time these two teams met, and we could be in for another close one, if for no reason other than that Kursk simply can’t defend anyone. It currently ranks last in EuroLeague Women in both defense (78 points per game allowed) and rebounding (31.4), so even if Galatasaray remains shorthanded, there’s a good chance it breaks its two-game losing streak here. Watch for Krajišnik in particular; the Galatasaray center recorded a season-high 26 points and 12 rebounds against Kursk back in Week 2.

MBA Moscow (2-6) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (6-2)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Královka Arena, Prague

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Nina Glonti, Zhosselina Maiga (MBA Moscow); Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Maria Conde (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: Praha has been machine-like since welcoming Thomas and Jones back to its roster, with BLMA its latest victim in an 89-54 drubbing. Moscow didn’t fare much better back in Week 2, and that was without Praha’s duo of stars in the lineup. As always, Moscow is a threat to put up and hit an impressive number of 3-pointers, but Praha’s elite transition offense and physicality on the glass will likely be overwhelming for the young Russian club.

KSC Szekszárd (0-8) vs. BLMA (4-4)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Palais des Sports de Lattes, Lattes

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Dana Evans, Cyesha Goree, Nikolina Milić (KSC Szekszárd); Olivia Epoupa, Haley Peters, Sydney Wallace (BLMA)

Matchup details: BLMA has had about as up-and-down of a season as any club in the competition, not having won or lost consecutive games since early November. Szekszárd presents a good opportunity for the French club to get back into the win column, though their Week 2 meeting was closer than the teams’ current records suggest. Simply put, Szekszárd struggles to score, having failed to break 60 points in two of its last three games. The return of Evans, who missed Szekszárd’s last game against Reyer, would go a long way in the team finally earning a win.

Fenerbahçe Safiport (5-3) vs. Basket Landes (3-5)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Espace François Mitterrand, Mont-de-Marsan

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Alina Iagupova, Satou Sabally, Kayla McBride, Elizabeth Williams, Amanda Zahui B., Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Safiport); Sophie Cunningham, Clarissa dos Santos, Celine Dumerc, Marianna Tolo, Regan Magarity (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: It’s hard to believe this is the same Fenerbahçe team that started the season at 2-3. The Group B favorite has been red-hot since the mid-November break, reeling off three-straight wins by an average margin of 29 points. Landes, meanwhile, has been going in the opposite direction; the French club has lost three consecutive games and now owns the worst cumulative point differential in Group B at -88. Landes will need to step up its defense (78 points allowed per game) against McBride, in particular — the Fenerbahçe wing knocked down eight 3-pointers in last week’s win over Galatasaray.

Beretta Famila Schio (5-3) vs. Spar Girona (5-3)

When: 2:15 p.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Diamond DeShields, Charli Collier, Sandrine Gruda, Kitija Laksa, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio); Kennedy Burke, Michaela Onyenwere, Rebekah Gardner, Laia Palau (Spar Girona)

Matchup details: Schio is one of the hottest teams in EuroLeague Women, having won its last four games, and it’s been winning with balanced scoring: DeShields, Gruda, Laksa, Mestdagh and Giorgia Sottana have all averaged double-figure scoring during their respective stints with the team. Girona has also gone 3-0 since the mid-November break, so this should be a competitive game between two teams fighting for top playoff position in Group B.

Thursday, December 16

VBW Arka Gdynia (1-7) vs. Sopron Basket (5-3)

When: 1:15 p.m. ET

Where: Novomatic Arèna, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Megan Gustafson, Morgan Bertsch, Alice Kunek (VBW Arka Gdynia); Gabby Williams, Shey Peddy, Briann January, Bernadett Határ (Sopron Basket)

Matchup details: Sopron’s lack of offense was its own undoing last week when it scored just 53 points in a loss to Girona. Gdynia is allowing 77.9 points on average, so there’s definitely room for some improvement on Sopron’s part. Credit should be given to Williams, who stuffed the stat sheet last week with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and six steals; she’s quietly putting together an All-EuroLeague-caliber season, and if Sopron makes the postseason, she just may earn those honors.