Gameday 9, actually played over the span of two days, confirmed that—if you want your sports to be exciting and unexpected—there’s nothing like the EuroLeague.
During the singular game on Tuesday, we learned a different way to spell upset: A-S-V-E-L. ASVEL upset defending champion Fenerbahçe—and what a game it was! The teams went blow for blow up until the final three minutes, when ASVEL managed to squeeze out the shocking victory. With both teams tied at 81, Gabby Williams made a free throw to give ASVEL to edge. On the other side of the court, Natasha Howard missed a layup for Fenerbahçe. During the next play, Howard lost the ball and ASVEL scored again. The ASVEL defense then forced a shot-clock violation. All in all, ASVEL’s defense and Fenerbahçe’s shooting woes left the defending champs stuck at 81 points, while ASVEL finished the game with 89 and their second win of the competition.
Emma Meesseman and Natasha Howard were great through most of the game for Fenerbahçe, but Howard committed two fouls and a turnover in the final two minutes. Kayla McBride missed some shots, but she still scored 22 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists. The problem was Fenerbahçe’s bench, which did not see much playing time but contributed just three points in total. For ASVEL, Alexia Chery made 72 percent of her shots to score 19 points; Gabby Williams also added 19 points. Stefanie Dolson had 13 points, three rebounds and five assists. Dolson’s play was especially noteworthy, as the New York Liberty center made three 3-pointers. But her impact went beyond the boxscore, as she was setting screens, spacing the floor and pressuring the opposing players on defense.
I was personally was looking forward to seeing Beretta Familo Schio against ACS Sepsi-SIC because of two players: Arella Guirantes and Borislava Hristova. And while they did not disappoint—Guirantes had 15 points and Hristova 18 points, plus seven assists—they were not the best players on their teams that day. Jamaican point guard Morgan Green, who earned a training camp contract with the New York Liberty last offseason, had 21 points and six dimes for Sepsi, but her team lost 88-72. The Italians were led by Robyn Parks, who had 22 points, shooting with 57 percent accuracy from the floor.
LDLC ASVEL Féminin 89, Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding 81
Casademont Zaragoza 70, DVTK HUN-Therm 68
Beretta Famila Schio 88, 72 ACS Sepsi-SIC 72
Valencia Basket Club 87, Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin 60
It would not be an EuroLeague gameday without a thriller or two. In Group A, Zaragoza needed an additional five minutes to put away DVTK; in Group B, Çukurova Basketbol Mersin faced surprisingly tough opposition from Basket Landes. Playing on French soil, the Turkish team seemed to have the win in the bag, leading by eight points with a bit over three minutes left in the game. But then Landes sank a two-pointer, Mersin lost the ball three times in a row, missed two 3s, committed some fouls and with seven seconds left the score was 71-70. The Turks had the ball, though, and after Landes fouled Alina Iagupova, she converted one of two free throws. Landes missed the inbound pass and Mersin won. Iagupova, the experienced Ukrainian forward, had 12 points and 10 turnovers. But with the game on the line, she kept a cool head and overcame her struggles to give her team the W.
During their previous meeting, Polkowice handed Praha their only loss of this year’s competition. In the first half of the rematch, the game was the even battle it was predicted to be, with the Polish vice-champions heading for the break with a two-point lead. In the third quarter, Praha switched gears. First, Spanish wing Maria Conde was left alone in the corner and drained a 3-pointer. Then, she got a steal and an assist during a fastbreak, giving the home team a 40-37 lead. She then drained a midrange jumper. And while she failed to score from the floor throughout the rest of the game, the momentum had shifted in Praha’s favor—it was a 22-7 run by the Czechs. Polkowice tried to fight back, but mistakes and misses prevented them from getting close to their rivals.
ZVVZ USK Praha 72, KGHM BC Polkowice 56
Çukurova Basketbol Mersin 72, Basket Landes 70
Villeneuve d’Ascq LM 82, Perfumerias Avenida 58
Virtus Segafredo Bologna 76, Serco UNI Győr 70