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EuroLeague Women: Alina Iagupova to make debut for Valencia Basket in Week 11

Just a few weeks remain in EuroLeague Women group play, but moves are still being made off the court. One of the most decorated players in competition history, Alina Iagupova, will play her first game for Valencia Basket Club after beginning the season with Çukurova Basketbol Mersin.

CBK Mersin v Villeneuve d’Ascq LM - FIBA Euroleague Women
Alina Iagupova was averaging 16 points per game for Çukurova Basketbol Mersin when she left the club for Valencia.
Photo by Mustafa Unal Uysal/Anadolu via Getty Images

EuroLeague Women group play resumes after a brief winter holiday break, and it’s safe to say things will look a little different in Week 11 due to a few transactions that could potentially change the competitive landscape of the competition.

The biggest of these moves was the shocking departure of Alina Iagupova from Çukurova Basketbol Mersin, and her subsequent signing with Valencia Basket Club. The two-time EuroLeague Women MVP was averaging 16 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for Mersin and will bring a dynamic playmaking ability to a veteran Valencia team that, at 4-6, is trying desperately to make a playoff push in Group A. Iagupova will be replacing Rebecca Allen, who left Valencia in mid-December.

Elsewhere, Bethy Mununga has joined Villeneuve d’Ascq LM, a club in need of frontcourt depth after Maïa Hirsch suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Mununga played briefly for ACS Sepsi-SIC at the beginning of the EuroLeague Women season, averaging 7.3 points and 11.8 rebounds in four games (two of which were EuroLeague Women play-in qualifiers).

Finally, Perfumerias Avenida will enter the calendar year with a new guard, signing Arica Carter to replace Bria Hartley, whose contract through December was not renewed. Carter played collegiately at Louisville and briefly in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury before beginning her overseas career; this will be her first time competing in EuroLeague Women.

You can catch Iagupova, Mununga, Carter and dozens of other international basketball stars live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. Let’s get to the slate of games for Week 11!

Wednesday, January 10

Valencia Basket Club (4-6) vs. ACS Sepsi-SIC (2-8)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Sepsi Aréna in Sfântu Gheorghe, Romania

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Alina Iagupova, Marie Gülich, Alba Torrens, Leticia Romero, Raquel Carrera, Clauda Contell (Valencia Basket Club); Borislava Hristova, Morgan Green, Courtney Range, Ellen Nystrom (ACS Sepsi-SIC)

Matchup details: Valencia hasn’t fielded a very potent offense this season (66.4 points per game and 39.4 percent shooting), so Iagupova’s ability to create shots for herself and others will surely make an immediate impact. Valencia will need it right away, too; the Spanish club is currently two games behind Schio for the fourth and final playoff seed in Group A, and this matchup against Sepsi-SIC is Valencia’s last against a club that’s below .500. To Sepsi-SIC’s credit, the Romanian club has won two of its last four games, and the athleticism of younger players like Green and Hristova could give Valencia’s aging roster some problems.

DVTK HUN-Therm (8-2) vs. Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin (1-9)

When: 12 p.m. ET

Where: Hala Mosir in Lublin, Poland

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Kaila Charles, Darcee Garbin, Réka Lelik, Nina Aho (DVTK HUN-Therm); Veronica Burton, Kylee Shook, Elin Gustavsson (Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin)

Matchup details: DVTK is back in second place in Group A, and is probably looking at this matchup as a golden opportunity to solidify that position. It wasn’t particularly close the last time these two clubs met, and while Lublin has made a few roster changes since then, those haven’t made much of a difference. Lublin lost its last two games by a combined 57 points and continue to post the lowest-scoring offense in EuroLeague Women, averaging just 56.4 points per game. It’s hard to imagine DVTK’s rebounding and defense having much of an issue here, though Lublin does currently have the competition’s most prolific rebounder in Gustavsson (8.6 per game).

Çukurova Basketbol Mersin (6-4) vs. KGHM BC Polkowice (6-4)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: City Sports Hall in Polkowice, Poland

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Marina Mabrey, Elizabeth Williams, Olivia Epoupa (Çukurova Basketbol Mersin); Brittney Sykes, Stephanie Mavunga, Brianna Fraser (KGHM BC Polkowice)

Matchup details: In addition to Iagupova’s departure, Mersin is also now on its third head coach of the season, with Ceyhun Yıldızoğlu taking over for Olcay Orak. That’s quite a bit of adversity for any club to be facing, let alone one that has lost three of its last four games. Things are suddenly wide open in Group B, with this game in particular holding major playoff implications. Polkowice’s recent wins over Villeneuve d’Ascq and Bologna have put the Polish club within striking distance, and you can bet that Sykes will be relishing the defensive assignment against Mabrey (19.4 points per game; first in EuroLeague Women).

Perfumerias Avenida (5-5) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (9-1)

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: Královka Arena in Prague, Czech Republic

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Sika Koné, Alexis Prince, Bernadett Határ, Arica Carter, Silvia Dominguez (Perfumerias Avenida); Ezi Magbegor, Nyara Sabally, Maite Cazorla, Maria Conde, Valériane Ayayi (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: Avenida is closing in on must-win territory, having lost two-straight games and competing with four other clubs for three playoff spots in Group B. Praha essentially owns the fourth playoff spot, having all but clinched with what has been a dominant group phase. Avenida scored just 53 points the last time these two teams met, and it goes without saying that a better offensive effort will be required if the Spanish club is going to stay in the playoff hunt. That will be easier said than done, though; Praha has allowed an opponent to score 70 or more points only twice this season.

Serco UNI Győr (1-9) vs. Basket Landes (2-8)

When: 1:30 p.m. ET

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

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Bridget Carleton, Kristine Anigwe, Cyesha Goree, Destiny Slocum (Serco UNI Győr); Alexis Peterson, Cierra Burdick, Sam Fuehring, Luisa Geiselsöder (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: There’s not much at stake in this game, but we could see the return of one of the competition’s brightest stars. Anigwe hasn’t played since Week 5 of the competition, but Győr team captain Ágnes Török suggested that her squad is finally back to full strength. Anigwe (18.4 points and 10 rebounds per game) would present a challenge for Landes, though the French club was the only opponent to hold her to single-digit rebounds before she got injured. Incidentally, that was Győr’s lone win of the season; Landes shot just 33.3 percent against Győr’s defense, which has been allowing 81.5 points per game.

LDLC ASVEL Féminin (3-7) vs. Casademont Zaragoza (7-3)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Centro Deportivo Municipal Siglo XXI in Zaragoza, 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); Tanaya Atkinson, Leonie Fiebich, Mikayla Pivec, Aleksa Gulbe (Casademont Zaragoza)

Matchup details: Zaragoza earned one of its signature close wins the last time these two clubs met, but it’s hard to put much stock into ASVEL’s early-season performances given how much talent the French club was missing. ASVEL has won two in a row but needs a miracle to make the playoffs, while Zaragoza had a six-game winning streak broken last week by Fenerbahçe. Despite the differences in records, don’t be surprised if this is another tight contest; while Zaragoza should by no means be coasting, ASVEL absolutely must win this game in order to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Villeneuve d’Ascq LM (6-4) vs. Virtus Segafredo Bologna (5-5)

When: 2:30 p.m. ET

Where: PalaDozza in Bologna, Italy

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Kennedy Burke, Kamiah Smalls, Shavonte Zellous, Bethy Mununga, Kariata Diaby (Villeneuve d’Ascq LM); Lauren Cox, Iliana Rupert, Cecilia Zandalasini, Ivana Dojkić, Haley Peters (Virtus Segafredo Bologna)

Matchup details: This is another big game in Group B, especially considering both clubs are on winning streaks. Villeneuve d’Ascq appears to finally be playing to its potential, having risen to the second-highest cumulative point differential in the group (+48), and the addition of Mununga gives the French club another athletic rebounder to pair with Diaby. Bologna, meanwhile, has gotten back on track after a massive midseason skid, recently defeating Avenida in a hugely important game that vaulted the Italian club back in the playoff picture.

Thursday, January 11

Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (9-1) vs. Beretta Famila Schio (6-4)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Palazzetto Livio Romare in Schio, Italy

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Natasha Howard, Kayla McBride, Emma Meesseman, Yvonne Anderson, Kitija Laksa (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding); Dorka Juhász, Arella Guirantes, Robyn Parks, Jasmine Keys (Beretta Famila Schio)

Matchup details: To no one’s surprise, Fenerbahçe was the first club in EuroLeague Women to clinch a playoff berth, but that doesn’t mean the defending champs will be taking it easy the rest of the way. Schio is coming off a close loss to DVTK and is trying to hold off Valencia and ASVEL for Group A’s fourth and final playoff seed. Schio’s frontcourt —Juhasz and Julia Reisingerova, in particular—has the size to negate at least some of Fenerbahçe’s star power individually, but whether the Italian club can limit Fenerbahçe’s free-flowing offense (26.2 assists per game; first in EuroLeague Women) is another question entirely.