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EuroLeague Women: Spar Girona faces Perfumerias Avenida in must-win game

A rematch between Spanish clubs Spar Girona and Perfumerias Avenida highlights a high-stakes final week of group play in EuroLeague Women. Defending champion Sopron Basket is also in the mix for the competition’s final playoff seeds.

Rebekah Gardner was magnificent in Week 13 of group play, leading Spar Girona with 24 points.
Image courtesy of Spar Girona (@unigirona) via Twitter

The final round of group play in the 2022-23 EuroLeague Women season is about to tip-off, and two of the competition’s eight playoff seeds are still up for grabs.

In Group A, the four teams who will be advancing to the playoffs have already been decided: Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (Turkey), ZVVZ USK Praha (Czech Republic), Valencia Basket Club (Spain) and Tango Bourges Basket (France). In Group B, CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (Turkey) and Beretta Famila Schio (Italy) have clinched their spots in the postseason.

That leaves two remaining playoff seeds in Group B, with Perfumerias Avenida (Spain), Spar Girona (Spain) and Sopron Basket (Hungary) all having the opportunity to advance, depending on the results of this week’s games.

Adding fuel to the fire: Avenida and Girona are matched up against each other to finish up group play, renewing a rivalry affectionately known as “El Classico.” Girona defeated Avenida handily the first time the two Spanish clubs met, but there’s a lot more on the line this time around, with the win-or-go-home scenario garnering Game of the Week honors from FIBA.

Elsewhere, defending champion Sopron will take on Schio, fully aware that the results of Avenida vs. Girona could decide its own postseason fate. The two games will be on at the same time, adding further drama to what is already primed to be an exciting week (or day, rather; all games this week will be played on Wednesday) of basketball.

You can catch both of these games, as well as all other EuroLeague Women matches, live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. For the final time this season, let’s look at the 16-team field.

Wednesday, March 1

CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (9-4) vs. Kangoeroes Mechelen (2-11)

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); Morgan Bertsch, Lisa Berkani, Ziomara Morrison (Kangoeroes Mechelen)

Matchup details: Mersin survived a resolute Girona squad to win in overtime last week, and while the results haven’t always been mind-blowing, the Turkish club has won four straight games and seems to be the favorite in Group B. All Mersin needs to do now to come away with the group’s top overall seed is to defeat Mechelen, which it did handily back in Week 7. For Mechelen, Bertsch has quietly emerged as one of the competition’s better scorers, ranking second among all players in points per game (17.7), but the club’s defense has held it back for most of the group play phase, allowing 77.3 points per game, which is the highest of any Group B club.

Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (3-10) vs. BC Polkowice (7-6)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Városi Sportcsarnok, Szekszárd

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Cyesha Goree, Sydney Wallace (Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd); Erica Wheeler, Artemis Spanou, Weronika Gajda (BC Polkowice)

Matchup details: Both of these clubs have limped to the finish line after decent starts to group play. Polkowice, in particular, began the season 6-1, but has lost its last four games and MVP candidate Stephanie Mavunga to an arm injury. Szekszárd, meanwhile, hasn’t won a game since mid-December, and both Victoria Vivians (16.5 points per game) and Ruthy Hebard (12.7 points per game) have left the team. There are still bright spots in both cases, however, such as Wheeler leading the competition in assists (6.9 per game) and Goree (12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game) having an impressive season for Szekszárd, and both clubs tend to be involved in high-scoring affairs, so there’s still reason enough to tune into this game.

ZVVZ USK Praha (9-4) vs. Virtus Segafredo Bologna (5-8)

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); Cheyenne Parker, Iliana Rupert, Cecilia Zandalasini, Kitija Laksa (Virtus Segafredo Bologna)

Matchup details: It’s too little, too late for Bologna, which is rounding into form with two-straight wins after being eliminated from playoff contention. The Italian club did get a nice consolation prize when Laksa was named EuroLeague Women MVP for the month of February, and with Parker now back in the fold after missing time with an ankle injury, this game serves as a nice tune-up for Praha, which is leading the competition in rebounds (43.5 per game) and assists (24.3 per game). Praha was the clear victor the last time the two clubs met, prevailing over Bologna 85-61 in Week 7 behind 22 points and 16 rebounds from Jones.

Basket Landes (3-10) vs. DVTK HUN-Therm (6-7)

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); Arella Guirantes, Cheridene Green (DVTK HUN-Therm)

Matchup details: Landes may have been eliminated from playoff contention long ago, but the French club proved that it can still be dangerous last week, upsetting defending EuroLeague Women champion Sopron Basket and putting them in a precarious position entering this week. DVTK, meanwhile, has tailed off, losing three-straight games, though the young club’s season-long contention in Group B should be considered a hands-down success. The last time the two teams met, Green went off for 20 points and 13 rebounds in a 67-58 DVTK victory.

Tango Bourges Basket (8-5) vs. Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (11-2)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Palais des Sports du Prado, Bourges

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket); Breanna Stewart, Satou Sabally, Emma Meesseman, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, Courtney Vandersloot, Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding)

Matchup details: The rich have gotten richer and richer this EuroLeague Women season, with Fenerbahçe adding Vandersloot to an already-stacked roster. The point guard impressed in her debut, recording 11 points, five rebounds, 12 assists and four steals in a win over Valencia. The Turkish club’s dominance since dropping its first two games of the season has been well-documented by now; Bourges, which clinched a playoff berth last week with a win over Polkowice, will need a Herculean defensive effort (9.9 steals per game on the season) to keep things close, because offensively, the French club is simply overmatched.

Valencia Basket Club (8-5) vs. Olympiacós SFP (1-12)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Fuente de San Luis, Valencia

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Lauren Cox, Raquel Carrera, Leticia Romero, Alba Torrens, Cierra Burdick (Valencia Basket Club); Megan Gustafson, Kylee Shook (Olympiacós SFP)

Matchup details: Most of the attention in Group A has been focused on Fenerbahçe and Praha, but don’t forget about Valencia, which has remained competitive and near the top of the group’s standings thanks to a healthy collection of Spanish talent and accurate 3-point shooting (38.3 percent; No. 1 in EuroLeague Women). Currently the No. 3 seed in Group A, Valencia will present quite a challenge for Olympiacós, which is one of just two clubs in the competition allowing over 80 points per game (81.2). Gustafson has been incredible, continuing to lead the competition in scoring at 22.6 points per game, so we’ll see if she has one more special performance in store against a superior roster.

Perfumerias Avenida (8-5) vs. Spar Girona (7-6)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Würzburg, Salamanca

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Bridget Carleton, Michaela Onyenwere, Maite Cazorla, Alexis Prince, Mariella Fasoula (Perfumerias Avenida); Brittney Sykes, Rebekah Gardner, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona)

Matchup details: Expectations for an exciting game between these two rivals fell short in Week 7, with Girona stifling Avenida in a 74-48 win. Avenida has stabilized since then, however, setting up a win-or-go-home situation for both clubs: Whoever wins is in. Girona knows it can count on Gardner, who scored a team-high 24 points last week against Mersin, but will need contributions from elsewhere on its roster, which has struggled to score efficiently at times this season. Avenida has simply been better offensively, especially when Fasoula (64.8 percent shooting) gets going. As is usually the case for Girona, controlling pace of play to negate the difference in outside shooting will be crucial for victory.

Beretta Famila Schio (9-4) vs. Sopron Basket (8-5)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Palazzetto Livio Romare, Schio

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Rhyne Howard, Marina Mabrey, Astou Ndour-Fall, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio); Ezi Magbegor, Yvonne Turner, Bernadett Határ, Jelena Brooks, Olivia Epoupa (Sopron Basket)

Matchup details: Sopron’s loss to Landes last week suddenly makes this week’s game very important to the defending champs. Should Girona defeat Avenida, Sopron would need to win against Schio in order to make the playoffs. Epoupa (five points and four rebounds) and Határ (scoreless in seven minutes) will need to play better than they did in their season debuts last week, and Schio certainly presents a challenge, staying in shouting distance of Group B’s top overall playoff seed. It wasn’t much of a contest the last time these two teams met, however, with Sopron defeating Schio by 19 points in Week 7. Expect this week’s rematch to be more competitive.