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EuroLeague Women: Fenerbahçe swaps Napheesa Collier for Natasha Howard ahead of Week 3

Defending EuroLeague Women champions Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding will welcome Natasha Howard back to their frontcourt for their Week 3 matchup against Spanish club Casademont Zaragoza.

Fenerbahce Alagoz Holding v Tango Bourges Basket - FIBA EuroLeague Women
Natasha Howard (left) returns to Fenerbahçe, where she played for the first portion of the 2022-23 EuroLeague Women season.
Photo by Mehmet Murat Onel/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Defending EuroLeague Women champions Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding are off to a 2-0 start this season, but they’re making a major roster change entering Week 3 of group play.

Natasha Howard, who played seven games for the Turkish club last season before being replaced by Breanna Stewart, is now back with Fenerbahçe. Howard will take Napheesa Collier’s place on the roster; Collier had signed a short-term contract with Fenerbahçe and leaves the club after two EuroLeague Women games and a SuperCup Women championship in which she was named Most Valuable Player.

Such transactions are not uncommon among clubs participating in EuroLeague Women, especially for those with larger budgets. It’s also still early in the season, so don’t be surprised if more signings are announced as WNBA players finish things up in the United States.

Another arrival is Rebecca Allen, whose WNBA season with the Connecticut Sun ended in early October. Allen was recently introduced by Spanish club Valencia Basket and is expected to make her EuroLeague Women season debut this week; it’s a welcome sight for Valencia, which was without Allen for all of last season as she recovered from a series of injuries sustained in the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup.

This week, Fenerbahçe will take on a talented Casademont Zaragoza frontcourt, while Perfumerias Avenida and Virtus Segafredo Bologna battle for an early lead in Group B. These games, along with all other EuroLeague Women matchups, will be streamed live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. Here’s what—and who!—to watch for in Week 3.

Wednesday, October 18

ZVVZ USK Praha (1-1) vs. SERCO UNI Győr (0-2)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: University Hall of Györ in Györ, Hungary

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Ezi Magbegor, Maite Cazorla, Maria Conde, Valériane Vukosavljević (ZVVZ USK Praha); Diamond Miller, Kristine Anigwe, Cyesha Goree, Destiny Slocum (SERCO UNI Győr)

Matchup details: Györ has now come up just short twice against two good teams. And while the season is still young, the Hungarian club seems to be one that could play spoiler later on—if it doesn’t sneak into the playoffs, that is. Miller’s debut (24 points and six rebounds) was impressive to say the least; she’ll now get an opportunity to repeat that performance against one of the strongest clubs in recent EuroLeague Women history. Praha, however, doesn’t have the star power we’re used to seeing, and last week’s disappointment against Polkowice may be a glimpse at a changing of the guard.

KGHM BC Polkowice (1-1) vs. Basket Landes (0-2)

When: 1:30 p.m. ET

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

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Charli Collier, Brianna Fraser (KGHM BC Polkowice); Alexis Peterson, Sam Fuehring, Luisa Geiselsöder (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: Polkowice bounced back from an opening-week blowout loss by defeating last season’s fourth-place team, Praha. Sykes had a marvelous debut for the Polish club, recording a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds. Landes, on the other hand, had no such luck last week, leading early against Mersin but eventually falling to last season’s runners-up. It may have been a moral victory for Landes, but Polkowice is still the more proven club at this point.

Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (2-0) vs. Casademont Zaragoza (1-1)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Príncipe Felipe in Zaragoza, Spain

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Natasha Howard, Kayla McBride, Emma Meesseman, Yvonne Anderson, Kitija Laksa, Nikolina Milic (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding); Tanaya Atkinson, Leonie Fiebich, Aleksa Gulbe (Casademont Zaragoza)

Matchup details: Fenerbahçe has averaged a ridiculous 101 points in its first two games, and while that’s sure to cool off a bit, Zaragoza certainly will be facing an uphill battle against the Turkish powerhouse. We’ll see how much of a reintegration period Howard needs, as her game is quite different than Collier’s. The frontcourt matchup between her and Atkinson (16.5 points per game on 59.1 percent shooting) will be one to watch, as will the battle between Meesseman (15.5 points, five rebounds and 5.5 assists per game) and Fiebich (12 points and 10.5 rebounds per game).

DVTK HUN-Therm (2-0) vs. Beretta Famila Schio (2-0)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Palazzetto Livio Romare in Schio, Italy

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Kaila Charles (DVTK HUN-Therm); Dorka Juhász, Arella Guirantes, Robyn Parks, Jasmine Keys (Beretta Famila Schio)

Matchup details: DVTK hasn’t been setting the competition on fire with its offense (67 points and 15.5 assists per game) but has found ways to get it done through the first two weeks of the competition, particularly via a rebounding advantage (39.5 rebounds per game; third in EuroLeague Women). Schio is similarly competent on the boards (39 per game), though the Italian club has more size up front with Juhász and Julia Reisingerova (both 6-foot-4). How DVTK fares against that size will tell us a lot about how seriously we should take its early-season success.

Valencia Basket Club (1-1) vs. LDLC ASVEL Féminin (0-2)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Astroballe in Lyon, France

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Rebecca Allen, Marie Gülich, Alba Torrens, Leticia Romero, Clauda Contell (Valencia Basket Club); Julie Allemand, Sandrine Gruda, Marine Fauthoux (LDLC ASVEL Féminin)

Matchup details: ASVEL hasn’t been even close to full strength yet, with Gabby Williams still recovering from a stress fracture and Marine Johannès currently playing in the WNBA Finals, but the 0-2 record and -59 cumulative point differential still feel wrong. On the bright side, Fauthoux (16.5 points and 3.5 assists per game) seems ready to take that next step as one of the best guards in France. She’ll need to have a big game against a Valencia club that, with the addition of Allen, has a great balance of shooting, rebounding and defense.

Çukurova Basketbol Mersin (1-1) vs. Villeneuve d’Ascq LM (1-1)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Palacium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Alina Iagupova, Marina Mabrey, Elizabeth Williams (Çukurova Basketbol Mersin); Kennedy Burke, Kamiah Smalls, Shavonte Zellous, Maia Hirsch (Villeneuve d’Ascq LM)

Matchup details: Mersin may not have the ceiling it did last season when it rostered Chelsea Gray, DeWanna Bonner and Tiffany Hayes, but as long as two-time EuroLeague Women MVP Iagupova is around, the Turkish club will remain capable of making some noise. Things will need to get cleaned up against Villeneuve d’Ascq, however, especially after Mersin languished against an inferior Landes club for much of last week’s contest. Villeneuve d’Ascq, despite coming up short last week against Avenida, cannot be taken lightly, especially with Burke (25 points and 5.5 rebounds per game) playing at her current level.

Thursday, October 19

ACS Sepsi-SIC (0-2) vs. Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin (0-2)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Hala Mosir in Lublin, Poland

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Bethy Mununga, Borislava Hristova, Morgan Green, Ellen Nystrom (ACS Sepsi-SIC); Shyla Heal (Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin)

Matchup details: Both Sepsi-SIC and Lublin have gotten off to terrible starts scoring the basketball, averaging 57.5 and 47.5 points per game, respectively. So don’t be surprised if offense is at a premium in this game. That being said, some positive regression should be expected at some point, especially from Lublin, which is shooting 26.1 percent from the field and 14 percent on 3-pointers thus far. Regardless, these are probably the two weakest clubs in Group A (assuming ASVEL starts playing halfway-competent basketball) but this game could be an opportunity for players like Mununga and Heal to establish themselves among the bigger international names in the competition.

Perfumerias Avenida (2-0) vs. Virtus Segafredo Bologna (2-0)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: PalaDozza in Bologna, Italy

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Bria Hartley, Sika Koné, Alexis Prince, Silvia Dominguez (Perfumerias Avenida); Lauren Cox, Iliana Rupert, Cecilia Zandalasini, Ivana Dojkić, Haley Peters (Virtus Segafredo Bologna)

Matchup details: How impressive has Bologna been so far? Through two games, the Italian club ranks second in the competition in both scoring (87.5 points) and distributing (24 assists), and is shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Avenida, too, has been strong out of the gate, especially in a convincing 14-point win last week over Villeneuve d’Ascq. Though the season is still young, there’s a statement to be made in this game, as the winner will be the lone undefeated team remaining in Group B and own an early lead over the competition.