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EuroLeague Women: Breanna Stewart, Fenerbahçe take on Alyssa Thomas, Praha in Week 12

Turkish club Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding has more star power than any of its competitors in EuroLeague Women, with nine straight victories as proof. The ever-dangerous Alyssa Thomas and ZVVZ USK Praha could be the last real challenge for Fenerbahçe in the competition’s group play phase.

Turkish club Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding has been unstoppable in EuroLeague Women play since adding Breanna Stewart (left) to its roster.
Image courtesy of Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (@fbkadinbasket) via Twitter

Can any team in EuroLeague Women stop Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding?

Fenerbahçe, the Turkish basketball club that entered the 2022-23 EuroLeague Women season as the favorite to win it all, has largely lived up to expectations, leading the competition with a 9-2 record. Featuring an absolutely stacked roster with Breanna Stewart, Satou Sabally, Emma Meesseman, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova and Kiah Stokes, Fenerbahçe has gotten better and better as group play has gone on, winning its last four games by an average of 42 points.

If that wasn’t enough, Fenerbahçe recently announced it had signed WNBA record-breaking point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who is anticipated to join the club on Feb. 15.

That’s still a couple of weeks away, of course, and the one team in Group A that can still theoretically match up against Fenerbahçe, Czech club ZVVZ USK Praha, will get a shot against its EuroLeague Women rival. Led by MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas (18 points, 11.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game) and her Connecticut Sun teammate Brionna Jones (16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game), Praha currently sits at 8-3, one game behind Fenerbahçe in the Group A standings.

The game, which was tabbed by FIBA as the EuroLeague Women game of the week, also carries a revenge angle for Praha. Back in Week 5, Praha seemed en route to a key victory, but Fenerbahçe made a big fourth-quarter run and ultimately won the game in overtime, 82-72.

Granted, Fenerbahçe looked different back then, with Stewart and Sabally yet to join the team. Still, Praha likely feels like it gave that game away, and with little margin for error in the race for Group A’s top overall playoff seed, viewers can expect Thomas to put the club on her broad shoulders and post another massive stat line against Fenerbahçe’s all-around excellence.

You can watch Fenerbahçe vs. Praha, as well as every other EuroLeague Women game, live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. Let’s dive into the rest of Week 12’s matchups.

Tuesday, January 31

CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (7-4) vs. Beretta Famila Schio (8-3)

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); Rhyne Howard, Marina Mabrey, Amanda Zahui B., Astou Ndour-Fall, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio)

Matchup details: Mersin keeps plugging away, though it would be difficult to argue that the Turkish club has reached its full potential, having most recently endured another close one against DVTK HUN-Therm. Gray will need to continue her impressive play (18.4 points and seven assists per game) if Mersin is going to keep pace with Schio, which has won three-straight games and is tied with Sopron Basket for Group B’s No. 1 playoff seed. Back in Week 5, Schio eked out a 76-72 win over Mersin, overcoming an 18-point, 13-rebound game from Jonquel Jones (no longer with the club) with Ndour-Fall scoring a season-high 21 points.

Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (3-8) vs. Tango Bourges Basket (6-5)

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); Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket)

Matchup details: Szekszárd may not have the worst record in EuroLeague Women, but the Hungarian club hasn’t won since mid-December, most recently dropping a game to previously winless Olympiacós. Szekszárd also has the worst cumulative point differential in the competition (-159), with a porous defense (82.7 points allowed per game) the main culprit. Bourges will definitely be favored in this one, though Vivians, who did not play for Szekszárd last week, returning to the lineup may cause the French club some issues. As usual, Bourges will rely on the playmaking of Anderson and an aggressive defense to force Szekszárd turnovers and create transition opportunities.

DVTK HUN-Therm (6-5) vs. Spar Girona (6-5)

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); Brittney Sykes, Rebekah Gardner, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona)

Matchup details: DVTK has, if nothing else, a flair for the dramatic, nearly adding Mersin to its list of big-time upsets last week behind 21 points and eight assists from Guirantes. It was Week 5’s game against Girona that originally began DVTK’s ascent to relevancy within Group B, and the two clubs have gone in opposite directions since. If Girona can get Gardner (shoulder) back from injury, that will certainly be a boost, but the club’s inconsistent offense (64.9 points per game) will likely remain an issue regardless. All in all, the even records don’t lie in this case; this game should be one of the more competitive ones this week, and a win by either club would put them in a much better position to make the playoffs out of Group B.

ZVVZ USK Praha (8-3) vs. Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (9-2)

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); Breanna Stewart, Satou Sabally, Emma Meesseman, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding)

Matchup details: Whichever way you slice the stats, these are the two best teams in EuroLeague Women. While both clubs are at the top of the statistical leaderboards in scoring, they’re among the best in the competition at forcing turnovers, as well. It may go without saying, but with neither team having much of a clear statistical edge (save, perhaps, for Fenerbahçe’s superior 3-point shooting), the winner will likely be determined by which star players show up in greater capacity. It’s hard not to like Thomas in these kinds of games, but even she hasn’t confronted quite the amount of talent Fenerbahçe will bring to bear in this high-stakes matchup. If you can only watch one EuroLeague Women game this week, make sure it’s this one.

Wednesday, February 1

Basket Landes (2-9) vs. Kangoeroes Mechelen (1-10)

When: 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Espace François-Mitterrand, Mont-de-Marsan

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Marine Fauthoux, Regan Magarity, Celine Dumerc (Basket Landes); Morgan Bertsch, Lisa Berkani, Ziomara Morrison (Kangoeroes Mechelen)

Matchup details: Is this one of the more exciting matchups of the week? Probably not. Both Landes (-105) and Mechelen (-120) have cumulative point differentials below -100, and they’re sitting at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, in Group B. There isn’t a complete dearth of interesting individual matchups in this one, though, with Fauthoux and Berkani being two of the best young guards from France. In the frontcourt, both Magarity and Morrison are go-to players for their respective teams; Morrison posted 21 points and 10 rebounds the last time these two clubs met, which ended in a 76-71 win for Landes.

Valencia Basket Club (7-4) vs. BC Polkowice (7-4)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Fuente de San Luis, Valencia

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: While Tuesday’s game between Fenerbahçe and Praha will get all of the attention, this matchup between Valencia and Polkowice carries nearly as much weight as far as the playoffs are concerned. The teams are currently ranked at No. 3 and No. 4 in Group A, but Polkowice has slipped a bit since its hot start, losing three of its last four, and actually has a negative cumulative point differential (-13) on the season. That’s no fault of Mavunga (15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game) or Wheeler (15.3 points and 7.4 assists per game), but Polkowice will nevertheless need its duo to be at its best against Valencia, which leads the competition in 3-point shooting accuracy (38.9 percent) by a comfortable margin. Valencia and Polkowice played a highly competitive and entertaining game back in Week 5, with Polkowice eventually prevailing, and there’s no reason not to expect a similarly close result in this rematch.

Virtus Segafredo Bologna (3-8) vs. Olympiacós SFP (1-10)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Segafredo Arena, Bologna

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: The wait is over! Olympiacós is finally in the win column after defeating Szekszárd last week, and has a real chance at making it two in a row this week against a Bologna club that has been without Parker (ankle) as of late. This is, of course, not a matchup with playoff implications, but it’s been a treat to watch Gustafson (competition-leading 23.7 points per game) play this season regardless, and Bologna also has two of the more exciting international talents in the competition in Rupert (11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game) and Laksa (15.5 points and 2.8 made threes per game). Bologna defeated Olympiacós handily back in Week 5, but don’t be surprised if things are closer this time.

Perfumerias Avenida (6-5) vs. Sopron Basket (8-3)

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 (Perfumerias Avenida); Ezi Magbegor, Yvonne Turner, Jelena Brooks, Olivia Epoupa (Sopron Basket)

Matchup details: Sopron came from behind to defeat Girona last week, overcoming 19 turnovers and holding its Group B rival to 33.3 percent shooting. It’s the classic Sopron style of winning games, and it has the defending champs at the top of the Group B standings. Avenida is one of the few clubs to defeat Sopron — the Spanish club earned a 75-53 victory back in Week 5, thanks to 11 made 3-pointers — but has unraveled since then and is now one of a handful of teams fighting for the group’s last playoff seed. Needless to say, a win here would be enormous for Avenida, both in the standings and for the club’s own momentum.