Gameday 12 was all about Hungarian teams. On Wednesday, even though Serco UNI Győr was eliminated some weeks ago, Bridget Carleton was the name on everybody’s lips. On Thursday, DVTK clinched their spot in the quarterfinals. With only five spots left, there’s still some exciting basketball to look forward to in the coming weeks.
It was fun while it lasted, but it didn’t last very long, only a total of 12 minutes. Even though they were playing in Istanbul, UMCS Lublin held a lead over the Turkish powerhouse—Fenerbahçe—for the first quarter and then some. Then, Latvian small forward Kaitija Laksa released a corner 3 with eight minutes left in the first half to tie the game. It was one of her three makes from long distance. On any other team, the 11th overall pick of the 2020 WNBA Draft would be a surefire starter whose streaky shooting could influence outcomes of games. For Fener, she’s on the bench, playing 20 minutes per game in the Turkish League and just 14 minutes per contest in the EuroLeague. This proves just how strong her team is and explains why Lublin had to be perfect throughout the rest of the game if they wanted to win. They kept things close and Fener never got quite comfortable, but once another 3 put them up 30-27, they didn’t lose their lead the rest of the game. Meesseeman had 16 points and 11 boards, while Napheesa Collier had 13 points and 11 boards. Lublin’s best scorer, Bria Goss, had 16 points, but made just a quarter of her shots from the floor. Elin Gustavsson lead the game with 13 rebounds and Veronica Burton had seven steals, but that wasn’t enough to stop Fener from winning, 72-61.
After a lukewarm debut, Alina Iagupova was hot for Valencia, leading the Spanish team to a dominant win over their local rivals from Zaragoza. The two cities might be a three-hour drive apart, but, on the court on Wednesday, Valencia needed just 40 minutes to not so much get to Zaragoza as to move way past the capital of the Aragon autonomous community, cruising to the 85-56 win. The Ukrainian forward had 19 points, four assists and a (very nice) block. The best play of the game (and the gameday) came in its early stages, with the scored tied at eight, when veteran Cristina Ouviña intercepted an inbound pass by Zaragoza and threw the ball behind her just before stepping out of bounds. It was caught by fellow Spanish veteran Queralt Casas, who scored a textbook layup with two defenders in front of her. There were more layups, deep 3s and great defensive plays, which I invite you to check out below.
Fenerbahce Alagoz Holding 72, Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin 61
Valencia Basket Club 85, Casademont Zaragoza 56
Beretta Famila Schio 90, LDLC ASVEL Féminin 83
DVTK HUN-Therm 72, ACS Sepsi-SIC 54
Serco UNI Győr have no chance at getting to the quarterfinals, yet they put up a fight against the favored Polkowice, securing the 91-80 upset. They rallied around Bridget Carleton, whose 41-point outing ranks among the best individual performances in EuroLeague Women history. The 26-year-old Canadian, who plays for the Minnesota Lynx in the W, was simply unstoppable, making 8-of-10 3-point attempts. All in all she was 11-for-15, was perfect from the charity stripe with 11 makes, had six rebounds, four steals, a dime and a block.
Mersin and Virtus both needed a win to stay in the tight quarterfinal race in Group B. In the end, Mersin won by just three points, following another stellar performance by Marina Mabrey. From the beginning it was a tight game, with lead changes up until the very end. With a bit over one minute left and Virtus up 61-60, the Chicago Sky shooting guard made a mid-range two, putting her team up by one. Then, after Virtus lost the ball, Mabrey fired another shot, but this time she missed. With 20 seconds left, Mersin’s Elizabeth Williams went to the free-throw line and missed both shots. Virtus’ Cecila Zandalasini then missed her shot attempt; it was a rare off-night for her, as she went 1-for-11 from the floor and finished with two points, although she added eight dimes. Mersin rebounded Zandalaini’s miss and with 0.9 of a second left, Mabrey went to the line. She made both free throws. Virtus fired a desperation shot, which went wide. With Virtus, Polkowice and Perfumerias all tied at 6-6 in their battle for the fourth spot, and Mersin and Villeneuve d’Ascq still within their reach, Group B will be tight up until the last day of the competition.
Cukurova Basketbol Mersin 64, Virtus Segafredo Bologna 61
Serco UNI Gyor 91, KGHM BC Polkowice 80
Villeneuve d’Ascq LM 90, ZVVZ USK Praha 81
Perfumerias Avenida 69, Basket Landes 44