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EuroLeague Women: Borislava Hristova, Cecilia Zandalasini impress in overtime losses

This week, we appreciate Borislava Hristova and Cecilia Zandalasini, whose teams both lost in overtime thrillers.

Fenerbahce v ACS Sepsi - EuroLeague Women
Sepsi’s Borsilava Hristova defends Fenerbahçe’s Natasha Howard during the Week 6 match between the two teams.
Photo by Esra Bilgin/Anadolu via Getty Images

Fenerbahçe played Valencia on Tuesday and were, once again, excellent. So to avoid repeating ourselves about what a pleasure it is to watch them, let’s focus on other games this week.

Group A

After suffering their first defeat in the competition to the favored Fenerbahçe last week, DVTK bounced back against ASVEL, 70-64. In this game, the gap between the two teams appeared much narrower than the five-win difference that separates them in the Group A standings. The thing that makes DVTK so special is that they rarely triumph thanks to great individual performances, but, rather, the team needs its players to, for lack of a better phrase, “do their jobs”—and they usually do! That sort of synchronicity allowed the Hungarians to return to their winning ways, with Hungarian shooting guard Reka Lelik dropping 18 points and Australian national team mainstay Darcee Garbin getting 10 points and ending up one rebound shy of a double-double. ASVEL stayed in the game up until the very end, but not much could be done when the ball simply wasn’t falling in the basket. With 34.5 percent from the floor and just 20 shots made throughout the whole game, ASVEL wouldn’t be able to beat most EuroLeague teams—let alone one of the top ones.

Last week, Sepsi won their first game in the competition; this week, they were really close to making it two in a row, but lost by one point to Zaragoza, 69-68. The game plan was again “give the ball to Borislava Hristova and let her work”—and it worked! She dropped 28 points and was the main reason the game went into overtime. With seven seconds left to play, Zaragoza was up by three, but Sepsi had the ball. It went to reserve center Courtney Range, making her debut for the Romanian champs after parting ways with the Greek Panathinaikos just a couple of days earlier. The team needed a three, but, instead, she went past her defender and made a midrange two, cutting the lead to one with one second left. Sepsi failed to foul the Spaniards and the game was over. The error in judgement cost her team the win—one that Sepsi desperately needed.

Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding 88, Valencia Basket Club 64

DVTK HUN-Therm 70, LDLC ASVEL Féminin 64

Casademont Zaragoza 69, ACS Sepsi-SIC 68 (OT)

Beretta Famila Schio 70, Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin 67

Group B

While the Polish champions from Lublin are struggling in Europe and domestically—and have just parted ways with their playmaker Shyla Heal—Polkowice remain competitive in the EuroLeague and the Polish league. This time, they won in overtime against Virtus Bologna, who played solid basketball. One player who needs to be appreciated for her consistency is Cecilia Zandalasini, the Italian small forward who played for the Minnesota Lynx in 2017 and 2018. For the competition, she is in the top 15 in points, rebounds and assists. In this game, she had 18 points, four rebounds and six assists for Bologna; however, she missed about two-thirds of her field goal attempts. Polkowice’s Brittney Sykes had a somewhat similar stat line, recording 16 points, six rebounds and two assists as she made around one-third of her shots. The difference was that Sykes had Brianna Fraser next to her to pick up the slack. Fraser went off, dropping 27 points in the game on 50 percent accuracy. Now, Polkowice are tied for second place in Group B with five wins, but, due to point differential, are fourth, behind Perfumerias Avenida and Çukurova Basketbol Mersin.

Speaking of which, in what supposed to be the game of the week, Avenida won by 11 against Mersin, with the Turkish team unable to overcome its shooting woes. They shot themselves out of the game, converting only 29 percent of their field goal attempts. Alina Iagupova (1-for-13) and Marina Mabrey (3-for-12) had nights to forget and they undoubtedly will, as, up to this point, they have been two of the more reliable players for Mersin. Avenida’s Sika Koné is my candidate for the MVP of the whole gameday, with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 Malian-Spanish big is just 21 years old. With the season she’s having, Koné, the 29th pick of the 2022 WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty who spent 2023 as a reserve for the Chicago Sky, is steadily improving her stock on both sides of the Atlantic.

Villeneuve d’Ascq LM 89, Serco UNI Győr 61-89

KGHM BC Polkowice 81, Virtus Segafredo Bologna 78 (OT)

ZVVZ USK Praha 69, Basket Landes 62

Perfumerias Avenida 67, Çukurova Basketbol Mersin 56