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EuroLeague Women: Despite roster turnover, defending champ Sopron Basket still at the top

Hungarian club Sopron Basket has undergone major changes since winning the EuroLeague Women championship in 2022, but, entering Week 10 of group play, it remains a force to be reckoned with in Group B.

Yvonne Turner is currently averaging 8.2 points, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game for reigning EuroLeague Women champion Sopron Basket.
Image courtesy of EuroLeague Women (@EuroLeagueWomen) via Twitter

It’s been just over nine months since Sopron Basket won the 2022 EuroLeague Women championship with an improbable title run. Gabby Williams, who won Final Four MVP honors, embodied Sopron’s defense-first approach, alongside similarly hard-nosed players such as Briann January and Bernadett Határ.

Sopron looks much different this season. None of Williams, January or Határ remain with the club, and prized offseason signing Brittney Sykes transferred to Spanish club and EuroLeague Women rival Spar Girona four games into the competition’s group play phase.

None of that has stopped Sopron from remaining one of the teams to beat in EuroLeague Women, though. A patchwork core of Ezi Magbegor, Yvonne Turner and Jelena Brooks has actually yielded even better results through nine weeks of group play than Sopron’s previous iteration; the club currently sits alone atop the Group B standings with a 7-2 record, winners of four-straight games. The team’s most recent victory came last week against CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld, and the result was typical Sopron: A slow-paced, grind-it-out game that held a star-studded Mersin lineup (featuring Chelsea Gray and DeWanna Bonner) in check and to a season-low 44 points.

This week, Sopron will have an opportunity to extend its lead in Group B against fellow Hungarian club DVTK HUN-Therm, on which the average player age is just 23 years old. Don’t take Arella Guirantes and DVTK lightly, though; they’ve won three straight games and have been on the right side of more than one upset this season.

The game between Sopron and DVTK, along with all other EuroLeague Women games, will be streamed live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. Here’s a quick rundown of the other games happening in Week 10 of group play.

Tuesday, January 17

Virtus Segafredo Bologna (2-7) vs. BC Polkowice (7-2)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: PalaDozza, Bologna

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Cheyenne Parker, Iliana Rupert, Cecilia Zandalasini, Kitija Laksa (Virtus Segafredo Bologna); Stephanie Mavunga, Erica Wheeler, Artemis Spanou, Weronika Gajda (BC Polkowice)

Matchup details: Bologna dropped yet another close game last week, a 79-74 loss to Bourges, and is officially in danger of dropping out of the playoff race completely, sitting at No. 7 in Group A. Bologna will need Parker to come up big against Mavunga and Polkowice, who are averaging 43.6 rebounds per game, highest in EuroLeague Women. Incidentally, this same matchup resulted in one of Bologna’s two victories in group play back in Week 3.

Wednesday, January 18

CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (5-4) vs. Basket Landes (2-7)

When: 11 a.m. ET

Where: Servet Tazegül Spor Salonu, Mersin

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Chelsea Gray, DeWanna Bonner, Tiffany Hayes, Elizabeth Williams (CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld); Marine Fauthoux, Regan Magarity, Celine Dumerc (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: Roberto Iñiguez will make his head coaching debut for Mersin, who hired him away from Avenida last week, and it comes at a good time; Iñiguez, commonly regarded as one of the game’s best international coaches, inherits a Mersin club that barely broke 40 points last week against Sopron and has rarely played to the sum of its parts. A prime example would be the Week 3 matchup between Mersin and Landes, which Mersin won by only seven points despite having multiple WNBA All-Stars in its lineup. The Turkish club will need to play much more convincingly this time around if it’s going to establish any sort of momentum.

Olympiacós SFP (0-9) vs. Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (7-2)

When: 11:30 a.m. ET

Where: Peace and Friendship Stadium, Pireas

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Megan Gustafson, Kylee Shook (Olympiacós SFP); Breanna Stewart, Satou Sabally, Emma Meesseman, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding)

Matchup details: It’s hard to imagine a bigger mismatch than this. Ever since adding Stewart and Sabally to its roster, Fenerbahçe has won two games by a combined 70 points. Olympiacós, meanwhile, remains winless and allows the second-most points per game (79.9) in the competition. The Greek club did give Fenerbahçe a run for its money back in Week 3 (a 95-89 final), but Fenerbahçe didn’t have Stewart, Sabally or Iagupova for that game, so it’s hard to imagine another close one here in Week 10, even accounting for Gustafson’s usual individual offensive excellence (23.5 points per game; 61.6 percent shooting).

Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (3-6) vs. Valencia Basket Club (6-3)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Városi Sportcsarnok, Szekszárd

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Victoria Vivians, Ruthy Hebard, Cyesha Goree, Sydney Wallace (Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd); Lauren Cox, Marie Gülich, Raquel Carrera, Leticia Romero, Alba Torrens (Valencia Basket Club)

Matchup details: Valencia has now won three-straight games after last week’s upset of Praha and is looking good for a playoff appearance out of Group A. The Spanish club currently leads EuroLeague Women in 3-point shooting accuracy at 39.4 percent, which bodes well against Szekszárd’s league-worst defense (83.1 points allowed per game). It’s entirely possible that this one turns into a shootout, in which case Szekszárd won’t be completely hopeless; Vivians currently ranks third in the competition in scoring (17.8 points per game) while Hebard is one of its most efficient-scoring frontcourt players.

ZVVZ USK Praha (6-3) vs. Tango Bourges Basket (5-4)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Královka Arena, Prague

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Maria Conde, Temi Fagbenle, Valériane Vukosavljević (ZVVZ USK Praha); Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket)

Matchup details: It’s not often that Praha looks mortal, but Valencia was able to cut the Czech club down to size last week despite another triple-double from Thomas (17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists). Thomas, who is on the short list of Most Valuable Player candidates this season, played spectacularly the last time Praha faced Bourges (Week 3), though it was a closer game than many anticipated, with Praha winning by just three points. Bourges, which features a pesky defense and one of the league’s top on-ball shot creators in Anderson, is a threat to defeat just about any team, so Praha must return to its dominant ways in order to get back on track.

Perfumerias Avenida (5-4) vs. Beretta Famila Schio (6-3)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Würzburg, Salamanca

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Bridget Carleton, Michaela Onyenwere, Maite Cazorla, Aleksandra Crvendakić (Perfumerias Avenida); Rhyne Howard, Marina Mabrey, Amanda Zahui B., Astou Ndour-Fall, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio)

Matchup details: It seems so long ago that Avenida was 5-1 and in the thick of things in Group B. The Spanish club has been in disarray since then, dropping three-straight games and losing head coach Roberto Iñiguez to fellow EuroLeague Women club Mersin. Avenida will need to turn it around in a hurry in order to stay in the playoff race, and Week 10’s game against Schio will be absolutely crucial in doing so; Schio defeated Avenida handily, 71-54, back in Week 3, and on paper seems to be the more talented club at this juncture. A win for the Italian club, which currently ranks No. 2 in Group B, would go a long way in securing its own playoff appearance.

Spar Girona (5-4) vs. Kangoeroes Mechelen (1-8)

When: 2:45 p.m. ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Brittney Sykes, Rebekah Gardner, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona); Morgan Bertsch, Lisa Berkani, Ziomara Morrison (Kangoeroes Mechelen)

Matchup details: Girona has run hot and cold in recent weeks, most recently losing a close one to Schio in which the club’s lack of offensive firepower was apparent. Mechelen may seem to be a gift on Girona’s schedule, but keep in mind the Belgian club’s lone win in group play came in Week 3 against this same Girona team. Since then, Girona has added Sykes, who should put her new team comfortably over the top against a young Mechelen squad (average age: 22 years old).

Thursday, January 19

DVTK HUN-Therm (5-4) vs. Sopron Basket (7-2)

When: 12:10 p.m. ET

Where: DVTK Aréna, Miskolc

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Arella Guirantes, Cheridene Green (DVTK HUN-Therm); Ezi Magbegor, Yvonne Turner, Jelena Brooks (Sopron Basket)

Matchup details: DVTK has quietly been one of the hotter teams in EuroLeague Women, winning three straight. Its most recent game was a blowout, 96-60 victory over Mechelen that put the young Hungarian club over .500 for the first time in group play. Sopron defeated DVTK in their first meeting back in Week 3 and will surely be favored here, though DVTK is no stranger to pulling off upsets; Guirantes and company have defeated both Girona and Schio thus far in group play, so it won’t be a cakewalk for Sopron.