Paul Nilsen is a freelance basketball journalist writing for various websites and publications across Europe.
If you'd like to contact Paul you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
There were a couple of real surprises in EuroLeague Women this week which adds further intrigue and excitement heading into the Regular Season stretch which now has three weeks of action remaining.
|Nora Nagy-Budjoso is leading Györ in both points and rebounds |
UNI GYÖR AND NAGY-BUDJOSO MAKE ME EAT MY WORDS
I would go so far as to say that the win for Uni Györ against Rivas Ecopolis was one of my top three results of the season so far. Last week, I said that their play-off hopes had pretty much gone up in smoke with the loss of both Chalysa Shegog and Ieva Kublina, but I was absolutely wrong and therefore thrilled that Akos Fuzy and his team shoved those words right back down my throat.
It was a magnificent performance for so many reasons. Not only because of the aforementioned double departure, but also because of the backdrop of an absolute 100-62 pounding in their previous game in Vidnoje and the fact this victory took them to a 5-5 record for the season. That is quite remarkable and for me at least, a substantial over-achievement in terms of my own expectations.
Despite the disappointment for visiting Rivas head coach Miguel Mendez, he showed his class by paying tribute to Györ and summarised the efforts by describing the real 'heart' they showed. That's all Coach Fuzy can ask for in tricky circumstances, and so his team also delivering a fantastic performance was a real bonus.
When the chips are down, some players stand up and want to be counted. Nora Nagy-Budjoso did that and it's probably to my shame that her efforts throughout this season have flown under the radar.
Well, not anymore. The Hungarian forward is arguably posting the best campaign of her career with an excellent field goal percentage, 12 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and of course, some game-winning performances. Congratulations to Nora and to Györ who have Tarsus on the road and an injury-hit Bourges still to play.
FENER BOLSTER FRONTCOURT WITH KUBLINA
Once the plane wheels lifted off the tarmac in Hungary, the next destination for Ieva Kublina was Istanbul. Fenerbahce swooped to secure her services in a bid to bolster their frontcourt which some felt (and obviously the Fener management too) was not quite as deep as their main rivals to land the EuroLeague Women title.
Kublina is a solid player who will probably, just like Nevin Nevlin, provide excellent back-up off the bench as part of an enhanced rotation in the paint.
Does it significantly impact on the prospects of Fener finishing top of the podium many fans have already asked me? Well no. That is not a reflection on Kublina who I really like as a player, it just means they have tried to get ahead of the game and specifically, Galatasaray. It would take a whole lot more to get anything like the rotation that UMMC Ekaterinburg has in place.
Incidentally, every time I watch Anastasiya Verameyenka play, I fall in love with her game just a little bit more. She drained a rare triple on the half-time buzzer against Sopron to help swing the game back the way of Fener but as usual, there was barely a flicker of emotion. I normally prefer it when players clench their fist and punch the air, but it kind of suits her. She continues to be operate like a slick machine in whatever she does on the floor and I assume is the kind of high-efficiency and low-maintenance player which coaches and clubs dream of having.
THE IRONY FOR ARRAS
Last week, I wrote about how after a winless season, the EuroLeague Women was not a priority for Arras because of their dire situation domestically. So what happens? They get totally routed in the French League again last weekend and then go and find a first victory in EuroLeague Women.
Their success against Famila Schio was a real shock and I wonder what the odds were of both Arras and Györ finding victories this week. But, just like with Györ, congratulations are very much due.
However, the irony of even trying to revel in this success is that just like last week, the message remains the same, only the French League truly matters now - and especially with one more opportunity of a victory having evaporated in the meantime.
|Catherine Joens will miss the remainder of the season due to a serious foot injury |
BOURGES INJURY JINX CONTINUES AS JOENS' SEASON ENDS
There's no sign the injury jinx which has plagued Bourges during recent times have any intention of relenting. The club has had quite unbelievable bad luck with a succession of serious injuries ruling out starting five players in the last couple of seasons.
During a week when they handed a contract to Great Britain star Johannah Leedham to fill the shoes of injured guard Frida Eldebrink, Bourges have been rocked by news that Cathy Joens has sustained a fracture in her foot and will miss the remainder of the season.
That means having lost their leading scorer, they have now lost their second most prolific player. Something which could have significant ramifications during play-off time as Bourges seek to claim a first ever Final Eight appearance.
Interestingly, at a time when Bourges have become short-handed (having also been without Endene Miyem), their young players and specifically Christelle Diallo and Romane Bernies have stepped up.
Against Tarsus, the 1993-born duo both played as many minutes as they have done previously for the club in the competition, combining for 40 minutes in the game and therefore effectively rotating a spot - albeit at opposite ends of the floor.
In the case of Diallo, she actually played twice as many minutes as she has ever done before (26 to be precise) and repaid that faith with an efficient and precious eight points (her highest ever tally) from four-of-six floor shooting.