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EuroLeague Women: ASVEL hanging on to slim playoff hopes after huge upset of Fenerbahçe

In the aftermath of LDLC ASVEL Féminin’s huge upset win over Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding, the EuroLeague Women playoff race has gotten a little more interesting. Week 10 of group play features several must-watch matchups in both groups.

Gabby Williams and ASVEL pulled off an upset win over Emma Meesseman and Fenerbahçe last week.
Image courtesy of EuroLeague Women (@EuroLeagueWomen) via Twitter/X

A major upset highlighted Week 9 of EuroLeague Women group play, as French club LDLC ASVEL Féminin handed reigning champions Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding their first loss of the season. ASVEL has struggled for much of group play and entered the game against Fenerbahçe with a 1-7 record, but proved that it can still hang with anyone on a good day thanks to strong performances from Gabby Williams (19 points, seven rebounds and five assists), Alexis Chery (19 points on 8-for-11 shooting) and Julie Allemand (12 points, four assists and three steals), as well as clutch defense that held Fenerbahçe scoreless for the final two and a half minutes of regulation.

It’s now up to Fenerbahçe to bounce back in Week 10 against Casademont Zaragoza. The young Spanish club has won six-straight games and, at 7-2, sits just one game behind Fenerbahçe in the Group A standings. While Fenerbahçe certainly has more international star power to its name with players such as Emma Meesseman, Natasha Howard and Kayla McBride, Zaragoza played the defending champs tough back in Week 3. If Leonie Fiebich and company can flip this script this time around, it could have major tiebreaker implications when postseason matchups decided. This rematch between Fenerbahçe and Zaragoza has rightfully been tabbed as FIBA’s Game of the Week.

Elsewhere, Spanish club Perfumerias Avenida got some reinforcements in a big way—literally. 6-foot-7 center Bernadett Határ, who last played for 2022 EuroLeague Women champions Sopron Basket, is back in the competition, and this time she’ll be sharing the frontcourt with one of the world’s brightest young stars, Sika Koné. We don’t yet know how Avenida will use Határ, but she’ll surely be a factor as Avenida makes a push for the playoffs in Group B.

You can catch Határ’s debut, Zaragoza’s quest to slay a giant, and all other EuroLeague Women action on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. Let’s preview the rest of Week 10’s games.

Wednesday, December 20

Casademont Zaragoza (7-2) vs. Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (8-1)

When: 10 a.m. ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall in Istanbul, Turkey

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: ASVEL gave the rest of the competition hope last week in showing that this season’s Fenerbahçe team is not as invincible as last season’s—at least, not on defense. The 89 points were by far the most Fenerbahçe has allowed in a game this season, and now the question is if Zaragoza can match it. Though the Spanish club’s record is impressive, it tends to play closer, lower-scoring games; six of Zaragoza’s seven wins have come by single-digits, and the club ranks near the bottom of the competition in several offensive categories, including points per game (67.1; 13th in EuroLeague Women) and free throw percentage (70.7 percent; 13th). If Zaragoza can keep the pace of play slow, it will have a chance, though it’s still far easier in theory than in reality to hold Fenerbahçe’s firepower down.

Villeneuve d’Ascq LM (5-4) vs. Çukurova Basketbol Mersin (6-3)

When: 11:30 a.m. ET

Where: Servet Tazegül Spor Salonu in Mersin, Turkey

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: For the first time all season, Villeneuve d’Ascq is on a winning streak, its most recent victory a convincing one over Avenida. Things have suddenly gotten very interesting in Group B. With Mersin looking relatively vulnerable as of late, Villeneuve d’Ascq has an opportunity to change the group’s hierarchy this week. There aren’t many frontcourt players playing better basketball than reigning Player of the Week Diaby (26 points and 11 rebounds against Avenida); Williams and Mersin will need to hold her down long enough for its backcourt duo of Iagupova and Mabrey to impose its will offensively and secure a Mersin victory.

Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin (1-8) vs. ACS Sepsi-SIC (1-8)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Sepsi Aréna in Sfântu Gheorghe, Romania

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Veronica Burton, Kylee Shook, Bria Goss, Elin Gustavsson (Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin); Borislava Hristova, Morgan Green, Courtney Range, Ellen Nystrom (ACS Sepsi-SIC)

Matchup details: No, this isn’t exactly a battle of titans, and neither club is in the running for a playoff spot, either. Sepsi-SIC does get a chance to avenge an early-season loss to Lublin, however, though Lublin’s core of imports looks different this time around. Lublin outrebounded Sepsi-SIC in Week 3 (41-28) and also shot 58.2 percent from the floor—a rarity for a club that has otherwise struggled to score efficiently—so obviously a better effort on defense will be required from the Romanian club. The individual matchup at point guard between Burton and Green, the latter of whom recorded 21 points and six rebounds last week, will also be one to watch.

Beretta Famila Schio (6-3) vs. DVTK HUN-Therm (7-2)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: DVTK Aréna in Miskolc, Hungary

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: Schio has strung together three-straight wins and is now in a position to overtake DVTK in the Group A standings, something that seemed improbable just a few weeks ago. Expect this to be a physical matchup; Schio and DVTK rank first and second, respectively, in rebounds per game, and the two clubs matched each other in that department back in Week 3. If the hustle categories are even once again, the game could come down to which perimeter scorers are more prolific—a scenario that would probably favor Schio, thanks to the duo of Guirantes and Parks, who combine to average 26.6 points per game.

Basket Landes (2-7) vs. KGHM BC Polkowice (5-4)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: City Sports Hall in Polkowice, Poland

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Alexis Peterson, Cierra Burdick, Sam Fuehring, Luisa Geiselsöder (Basket Landes); Brittney Sykes, Stephanie Mavunga, Brianna Fraser (KGHM BC Polkowice)

Matchup details: Landes may be all but eliminated from playoff contention, but the French club can still play spoiler by getting revenge on Polkowice. Polkowice narrowly defeated Landes back in Week 3, but hasn’t been able to establish much momentum since then, currently sitting in fifth place in Group B. While these two clubs are not much of a match for each other statistically, Polkowice’s lukewarm defense (75.3 points allowed per game) may very well let Landes hang around long enough to surprise some people, especially if Peterson (team-high 13.1 points and 3.7 assists per game) gets going. For Polkowice, this would be a good game for Mavunga, who has averaged 3.5 points on 28.6 percent shooting since returning from an arm injury, to reestablish herself.

Serco UNI Győr (1-8) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (8-1)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Královka Arena in Prague, Czech Republic

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Bridget Carleton, Kristine Anigwe, Cyesha Goree, Destiny Slocum (Serco UNI Győr); Ezi Magbegor, Nyara Sabally, Maite Cazorla, Maria Conde, Valériane Ayayi (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: This is, statistically, about as big of a mismatch as Group B can offer. Praha has been excellent across the board, ranking second in the competition in points per game (75.1) and third in rebounding (40.0), while Győr is allowing the most points (82.2) of any EuroLeague Women club. Győr kept it close for three quarters the last time the two clubs met, but that was with 27 points and nine rebounds from Anigwe, who has missed several games in a row due to injury. If she’s still unavailable this week, expect Magbegor and Praha to have a field day.

LDLC ASVEL Féminin (2-7) vs. Valencia Basket Club (4-5)

When: 1:15 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Fuente de Sant Luís in Valencia, Spain

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: Though ASVEL shocked the world with last week’s upset, a lot would have to go right for the French club to make the postseason, starting with a win against Valencia. Back in Week 3, Valencia defeated ASVEL thanks to a big second quarter and a decisive edge in turnovers (20 to seven), but that was without Williams or Johannès in the fold. Things could look different this time around, especially considering Valencia has lost four of its last five and ASVEL is riding high on confidence; Valencia will need another strong offensive showing (season-high 87 points last week against Lublin) to keep its own postseason hopes alive.

Virtus Segafredo Bologna (4-5) vs. Perfumerias Avenida (5-4)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Würzburg in Salamanca, Spain

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: In terms of playoff implications, this could be the biggest game of the week in Group B. Both Bologna and Avenida are battling for a postseason berth—Bologna is currently in sixth place and Avenida is in third—and their cumulative point differentials couldn’t be much closer (Bologna -8 and Avenida -5). The length of Koné and Határ against the skill of Cox and Rupert makes for an interesting frontcourt matchup, and there’s plenty of solid guard play between these two clubs, too, making this a must-watch game in all respects.