Things are heating up in EuroLeague Women. Fenerbahçe, seemingly unbeatable just a month ago, now has lost two of their last three games. Praha became the second team to make the quarterfinals. With six spots remaining, the next three weeks will bring a lot of emotion, passion and, unfortunately, heartbreak.
While most of us have spent the holiday break putting on pounds, opening gifts and enjoying some well-deserved rest, coach Krzysztof Szewczyk and the Lublin players have been coming up with defensive schemes to improve their position in Group A and make one final run at a spot in the quarterfinals. The result? They held DVTK to 24 percent shooting from the floor. The Hungarians made just 13 shots from the field throughout the whole game. Lublin also forced 26 turnovers. Still, the score at the half was relatively close, with Lublin up by just four points. In the third quarter, though, the Polish team stepped on the gas, with Aleksandra Ziemborska making two 3s, a layup, adding in three rebounds, two steals and an assist. The 5-foot-11 Polish forward finished the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds and six steals, leading her team to the 56-37 victory. Lublin continues to be at the bottom of Group A with two wins, but with some lucky breaks, can still make the quarterfinals.
The only game on Thursday, between Fenerbahçe and Famila Schio, was alarmingly close and competitive from the very beginning. Alarmingly for the reigning EuroLeague winners, of course. In the third quarter, following another stellar play from Arella Guirantes, who was on a roll with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists (but also 6 turnovers), Schio regained the lead they lost in the middle of second quarter—and they held it tight till the buzzer. After two late, consecutive 3s, by Giorgia Sottana and Lynx’s Dorka Juhász, the Italians entered the fourth quarter up by six points. The Turks, though, had Yvonne Anderson, who had her best game of the season and finished with 17 points and five dimes. She did not shy away from responsibility when it mattered and following her assist on a 3 by Kayla McBride, the score was 63-61 for Famila Schio. But that was the closest that Fenerbahçe got to winning the game. With one minute to go and Famila up by seven, Emma Meesseman lost the ball after a bad pass from McBride. In that exact moment, the game was basically over. At the end of the day, Famila just wanted it more, and their effort made for an exciting 75-67 win.
Valencia Basket Club 71, ACS Sepsi-SIC 61
Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin 56, DVTK HUN-Therm 37
Casademont Zaragoza 63, LDLC ASVEL Féminin 60
Beretta Famila Schio 75, Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding 67
The game between Bologna and Villeneuve d’Ascq was everything it promised to be. The teams were evenly matched on paper, with the French team entering the game at 6-4 and Bologna hoping to improve above the .500 mark. The Italians opened strong, with 23-year-old guard Francesca Pasa scoring 12 points in the first quarter alone, making all five of her field-goal attempts. She would finish the game with 24 points, going 82 percent from the floor and 7-for-7 from 2-point range. In the second quarter, Villeneuve d’Ascq clawed back, with Kennedy Burke closing out the half with three consecutive layups and an assist. The 22nd pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, Burke struggled with her shot throughout the whole game, as she finished the game 4-for-13 from the floor. With seconds left on the game clock, she was able to draw a foul and go to the line. Because Bologna lead 65-63, the plan was probably to make the first shot, miss the second, get the rebound and fire up a shot just in time to tie the game. Unfortunately for Villeneuve d’Ascq, she missed both, the clock ran out and, when the buzzer sounded, the Italians got the win, 65-62.
CBK Mersin lost one of their core players in Alina Iagupova, who signed with Valencia and despite her debut not going particularly well—12 minutes, 2-for-7 from the floor, one rebound, two steals, two turnovers and three fouls—her team emerged victorious. As for the group she left behind, Mersin, they were undeterred by the subtraction and won their game against Polkowice 66-59, after another stellar performance by Marina Mabrey. The Chicago Sky guard finished the game with 25 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Mabrey lived behind the 3-point line, delivering long passes for easy baskets for her teammates and shooting from long distance. Words will not do her performance justice, so just check the highlights below.
Çukurova Basketbol Mersin 66, KGHM BC Polkowice 59
ZVVZ USK Praha 78, Perfumerias Avenida 64
Basket Landes 83, Serco UNI Győr 75
Virtus Segafredo Bologna 65, Villeneuve d’Ascq 62