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EuroLeague Women: Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe renew rivalry in Week 8

With Satou Sabally back at full strength for Fenerbahçe and Kaela Davis in the fold for Galatasaray, both Turkish teams are loading up for what should be another epic EuroLeague Women game. Meanwhile, Michaela Onyenwere is set to make her debut for Spar Girona and ZVVZ USK Praha will seek revenge against BLMA.

Fenerbahçe Safiport got off to a rougher-than-expected start to the 2021-22 EuroLeague Women season, but has looked much better as of late.
Photo courtesy of EuroLeague Women (@EuroLeagueWomen) via Twitter

Turkish clubs Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe will clash in Week 8 of EuroLeague Women play, renewing one of the biggest and most intense rivalries in professional sports. It’s perhaps this week’s most compelling matchup — and it features plenty of WNBA talent.

Incidentally, both Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe sit at 4-3 in Group B, which is enough on its own to raise some eyebrows. Fenerbahçe, in particular, hasn’t quite lived up to preseason expectations (FIBA ranked it at No. 2 in its preseason power rankings), but has come alive since the mid-November break, winning a pair of games by a combined 42 points. Kayla McBride currently ranks second in EuroLeague Women in scoring (20.4 points per game) while Alina Iagupova leads the competition in assists (six per game).

Galatasaray, meanwhile, is also on the upswing after starting the season 0-2. Though it dropped last week’s game against Beretta Famila Schio, the midseason addition of Kaela Davis is already paying dividends, with the talented wing leading the team in scoring while giving it much-needed size on the perimeter. Davis teams up with Riquna Williams to give Galatasaray one of the more explosive scoring duos in EuroLeague Women.

Elsewhere across the EuroLeague Women landscape, 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere has arrived in Girona. It’s a little later than expected — the team initially stated that she would report on Dec. 1 after rehabbing a thumb injury — but she appears to be good to go now. Onyenwere will be reuniting with former UCLA teammate Kennedy Burke and she’s also documented her EuroLeague Women journey thus far in a brief TikTok video.

With these storylines just the tip of the iceberg, it’s an exciting time to be a EuroLeague Women fan. You can catch all of this week’s action live and for free on FIBA’s YouTube channel. Here are the details on the rest of the week’s games, as well as which players to watch for.

Tuesday, December 7

Perfumerias Avenida (5-2) vs. MBA Moscow (2-5)

When: 11 a.m. ET

Where: Basket Hall Moscow

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); Nina Glonti, Zhosselina Maiga (MBA Moscow)

Matchup details: Avenida fell to Russian superteam UMMC Ekaterinburg last week, 110-102, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort. Avenida should have a much easier time against Moscow, particularly if Copper (34 points in Week 7) plays to her full potential once again. Moscow made a game of it during their Week 1 meeting, though that was without Copper and Katie Lou Samuelson in the fold; Moscow, to its credit, leads EuroLeague Women in both 3-pointers made (8.7) and attempted (27.6) per game, so we’ll see if the long ball is enough to keep this one close.

Wednesday, December 8

TTT Riga (3-4) vs. UMMC Ekaterinburg (7-0)

When: 9 a.m. ET

Where: UMMC Sport Palace, Ekaterinburg

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Daugilė Šarauskaitė, Ieva Pulvere (TTT Riga); Jonquel Jones, Brittney Griner, Allie Quigley, Emma Meesseman, Maria Vadeeva, Alba Torrens, Alex Bentley (UMMC Ekaterinburg)

Matchup details: Ekaterinburg held off Perfumerias Avenida last week in what FIBA described as one of the best games in EuroLeague Women history, and now draws Riga, which came out and won a season ago in the competition’s biggest-ever upset. Despite the historical context, there’s a much greater chance this game will be standard business for Ekaterinburg; Riga has clawed and fought its way to respectability in Group A, but it’s still the lowest-scoring team in the competition (58 points per game) going up against the highest-scoring team (84.1), and the overall level of talent is hardly comparable.

Galatasaray (4-3) vs. Fenerbahçe Safiport (4-3)

When: 11 a.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Kaela Davis, Riquna Williams, Tina Krajišnik, Anete Šteinberga (Galatasaray); Alina Iagupova, Satou Sabally, Kayla McBride, Elizabeth Williams, Amanda Zahui B., Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Safiport)

Matchup details: Fenerbahçe finally seems to be back on track, winning its two most recent games by comfortable margins. The return of Sabally has certainly helped; the talented forward has been brought along slowly as she rehabs an Achilles injury, but an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double last week is good proof that she’s ready to be fully assimilated into the team’s rotation. Krajišnik (17.9 points per game) and Šteinberga (17.3 points per game) continue to play excellent basketball for Galatasaray, and they’ll once again need to be at the top of their respective games against Group B favorite Fenerbahçe.

Umana Reyer (2-5) vs. KSC Szekszárd (0-7)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Szekszárd Városi Sportcsarnok, Szekszárd

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Dana Evans, Cyesha Goree, Nikolina Milić (KSC Szekszárd); Astou Ndour-Fall, Kayla Thornton, Yvonne Anderson (Umana Reyer)

Matchup details: Poor Szekszárd just can’t seem to catch a break. The Hungarian club is still searching for its first-ever EuroLeague Women victory after blowing a fourth-quarter lead against Riga last week despite Evans’ best efforts (17 points and five assists). Szekszárd will now get another crack at Reyer, which opened the season with an impressive 80-59 victory in the first matchup between the two teams.

Dynamo Kursk (3-4) vs. VBW Arka Gdynia (1-6)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Hala Gier Gdyńskiego Centrum Sportu, Gdynia

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Megan Gustafson, Morgan Bertsch, Alice Kunek (VBW Arka Gdynia); Arike Ogunbowale, Natasha Howard, Epiphanny Prince, Eva Lisec (Dynamo Kursk)

Matchup details: Kursk last played Gdynia back in Week 1, and it was a decisive victory for the Russian club, despite missing both Ogunbowale and Prince. Things haven’t been going swimmingly for either team lately; both Kursk and Gdynia have lost three-straight games, and they’ve allowed the most and second-most points per game, respectively, in the competition. Needless to say, it’s a must-win game for Kursk, while Gdynia has more or less fallen out of the playoff picture already.

BLMA (4-3) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (5-2)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Královka Arena, Prague

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Olivia Epoupa, Haley Peters, Sydney Wallace (BLMA); Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Maria Conde (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: The greatest cumulative point differential in EuroLeague Women (+160) currently belongs to Praha, and it’s not particularly close; UMMC Ekaterinburg ranks second at +86. While that’s not a tell-all statistic, it’s a good indicator of just how good Praha has been; it’s won three-straight games (all blowouts), with its last loss coming to Ekaterinburg by just two points. While BLMA narrowly defeated Praha in Week 1, that was without Thomas and Jones. Things will be significantly tougher for the French club this time around.

Thursday, December 9

Spar Girona (4-3) vs. Sopron Basket (5-2)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Novomatic Arèna Sopron, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Kennedy Burke, Michaela Onyenwere, Rebekah Gardner, Laia Palau (Spar Girona); Gabby Williams, Shey Peddy, Briann January, Bernadett Határ (Sopron Basket)

Matchup details: Sopron remains at the top of Group B after last week’s big victory over Landes and now sets its sights on Girona, which has been nipping at its heels for most of the season. While we don’t know if Onyenwere is cleared to play yet, Girona does have the competition’s leading scorer in Burke (20.6); Sopron, on the other hand, has defenders on both the perimeter and interior, so we’ll see if that’s enough to throw Burke off her game. If not, we could be looking at a multi-team tie for first place in Group B.

Beretta Famila Schio (4-3) vs. Basket Landes (3-4)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Espace François Mitterrand, Mont de Marsan

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Diamond DeShields, Charli Collier, Sandrine Gruda, Kitija Laksa, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio); Sophie Cunningham, Clarissa dos Santos, Celine Dumerc, Marianna Tolo, Regan Magarity (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: The arrow is pointing directly upward for Schio after its third-straight win. DeShields contributed a little bit of everything (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) in her debut last week, while Gruda became EuroLeague Women’s second all-time leading scorer. Landes, meanwhile, hasn’t been so fortunate, losing three of its last four; the French club will need to turn things around in a hurry if it’s going to stay in the thick of things in Group B.