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EuroLeague Women: Brittney Sykes rejoins Girona, Avenida welcomes Bridget Carleton ahead of Week 5

EuroLeague Women returns from its late-November hiatus with several player transfers and additions. Most notably, Brittney Sykes has moved from Sopron Basket to Spar Girona, while Perfumerias Avenida has added Bridget Carleton to its roster.

Brittney Sykes returns to Spar Girona, where she last played during the 2019-20 EuroLeague Women season.
Photo by David Subirana / courtesy of Spar Girona (@unigirona) via Twitter

Throughout the course of a EuroLeague Women season, it’s not uncommon to see players — Americans and/or “imports,” in particular — switch teams. This can happen for a variety of reasons, given the volatile nature of overseas contracts, and can always be relied on to create a bit of drama as the season progresses.

The 2022-23 EuroLeague Women season resumes after its late-November hiatus, and entering Week 5 of the competition, there have been a handful of such swaps. Most notably, Brittney Sykes has left Sopron Basket to join Spar Girona, where she played during the 2019-20 EuroLeague Women season. Sykes currently ranks second in the competition in assists (7.3 per game) and third in steals (3.5 per game), so it’s safe to say that this move will shake things up, especially considering Girona and Sopron are in the same division of the competition’s group phase (Group B).

Elsewhere, Spanish club Perfumerias Avenida received a much-needed reinforcement on the perimeter, adding Canadian wing Bridget Carleton. Replacing last season’s duo of Kahleah Copper and Katie Lou Samuelson has understandably been a challenge for Avenida, though the club has made it work thus far (3-1 record), and Carleton figures to add reliable perimeter scoring that could propel Avenida back to the competition semifinals.

Other players on the move include Erica Wheeler, Yvonne Turner and Temi Fagbenle, while Chelsea Gray makes her debut for a stacked CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld roster. Catch all of these players and more live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel.

Wednesday, December 7

Olympiacós SFP (0-4) vs. Virtus Segafredo Bologna (1-3)

When: 10:30 a.m. ET

Where: Peace and Friendship Stadium, Piraeus

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Megan Gustafson, Kylee Shook (Olympiacós SFP); Cheyenne Parker, Cecilia Zandalasini, Iliana Rupert, Kitija Laksa (Virtus Segafredo Bologna)

Matchup details: Is the talent level of these two clubs greater than the one total win between them? Gustafson continues to be ridiculously efficient for Olympiacós, averaging a competition-high 27.2 points per game on 64.6 percent shooting, while Laksa and Zandalasini form a duo that puts up a combined 11.6 threes per game and can get hot at a moment’s notice. We’re also seeing Rupert make progress in her own journey as a pro; she’s recorded two double-doubles in four games and has made at least one 3-pointer in each game so far. The battle in the frontcourt will be reason enough to tune into this one.

Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (2-2) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (3-1)

When: 11 a.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Natasha Howard, Kayla McBride, Emma Meesseman, Alina Iagupova, Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding); Alyssa Thomas, Maria Conde, Temi Fagbenle, Emese Hof, Valériane Vukosavljević (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: Praha recently added a pair of bigs in Temi Fagbenle (who formerly played for Mersin) and Emese Hof, though one-woman wrecking crew and November’s Player of the Month Alyssa Thomas remains the center of attention. Fenerbahçe has regained its footing after a slow start to the competition — the addition of Meesseman certainly helps — but will have to slow down Thomas, who is averaging 23.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game, if it’s going to quell any worries about a season-long letdown.

BC Polkowice (3-1) vs. Valencia Basket Club (3-1)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: City Sports Hall, Polkowice

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Stephanie Mavunga, Erica Wheeler (BC Polkowice); Lauren Cox, Marie Gülich, Alba Torrens, Leticia Romero (Valencia Basket Club)

Matchup details: Wheeler replaces Yvonne Turner (who, in turn, signed with Sopron) as Polkowice’s lead guard, but her role will likely be similar: complement Mavunga, who’s averaging a competition-high 15.3 rebounds per game to go along with 18.5 points. It’s a game in which Valencia could certainly use Rebecca Allen, but it doesn’t sound like she’ll be suiting up anytime soon, so the duo of Cox and Gülich may just have to outduel Mavunga on its own.

Tango Bourges Basket (2-2) vs. Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (2-2)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Palais des Sports du Prado, Bourges

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket); Victoria Vivians, Ruthy Hebard, Cyesha Goree, Sydney Wallace (Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd)

Matchup details: Szekszárd went from going winless last season to being a pleasant surprise this season, much thanks to Vivians, who leads the club in scoring at 21.3 points per game. This likely won’t be a game in which Bourges will be able to out-shoot its opponent — the French club is currently making only four 3-pointers per game at a 23.9 percent clip — so expect Alexander and company to try to slow things down and punish Szekszárd on the glass.

Thursday, December 8

Spar Girona (3-1) vs. DVTK HUN-Therm (1-3)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Brittney Sykes, Rebekah Gardner, Crystal Bradford, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona); Arella Guirantes (DVTK-Hun-Therm)

Matchup details: There may not be a scarier defensive group in the competition than Sykes, Gardner and Bradford, and it will come in handy for Girona in this matchup, giving the Spanish club plenty of different looks to throw at Guirantes (14.5 points and five assists per game). On paper, this is a mismatch, though there’s a chance Girona is still getting acclimated to its prized transfer and DVTK will be able to take advantage.

Sopron Basket (3-1) vs. Perfumerias Avenida (3-1)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Novomatic Aréna, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Ezi Magbegor, Yvonne Turner (Sopron Basket); Erica McCall, Bridget Carleton, Maite Cazorla (Perfumerias Avenida)

Matchup details: Sykes was leading Sopron in nearly every offensive category prior to her departure, so while the reigning champs still theoretically have the talent to get it done, there will be an adjustment period at the very least. Defending the 3-point line will be of utmost importance to the Hungarian club; Avenida gets up more than 20 threes per game, and that’s not counting the production Carleton will add, assuming she’s treated as the team’s new go-to scorer.

Beretta Famila Schio (3-1) vs. CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (2-2)

When: 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Palazzetto Livio Romare, Schio

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Rhyne Howard, Marina Mabrey, Amanda Zahui B., Astou Ndour-Fall, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio); Jonquel Jones, Chelsea Gray, DeWanna Bonner, Tiffany Hayes, Briann January (CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld)

Matchup details: In terms of star power, this is probably the game of the week. Gray makes her debut for Mersin, which now boasts an embarrassment of riches and should have more than enough to put its 0-2 start firmly in the past. Schio, meanwhile, leads Group B in scoring (75.5 points per game), with Ndour-Fall in particular off to a great start to the competition: 13 points per game on 52.3 percent shooting.

Kangoeroes Mechelen (1-3) vs. Basket Landes (0-4)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Sporthal De Schalk, Willebroek

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Morgan Bertsch (Kangoeroes Basket); Regan Magarity, Celine Dumerc, Marine Fauthoux (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: The Nos. 14 and 15 teams in FIBA’s latest EuroLeague Women power rankings, Mechelen and Landes have both struggled to begin the season. While Mechelen shocked Girona in Week 3 for its first-ever EuroLeague Women victory, Landes has had no such luck, averaging a competition-low 57.2 points per game. Making matters worse, Evelyn Akhator is no longer listed on the French club’s roster; with Dumerc firmly in the twilight of her storied career, young players like Fauthoux and Magarity will need to grow up fast if Landes is to save its season.