Paul Nilsen is a freelance basketball journalist writing for various websites and publications across Europe.
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WILLINGHAM WILL HELP
To ask Willingham to bring the good times back to Perfumerias Avenida is perhaps asking just a little too much. Granted, she was part of clubs' first ever foray to the Final Four, and will for sure evoke many great memories for the Avenida fans. But, they are also a wise bunch, and those supporters will know these are very different times from back then.
|LeCoe Willingham is set to return to Perfumerias Avenida|
Pitched in the toughest group of the tournament, the former EuroLeague Women champions have found it tough going so far with three losses from the first four games. However, if Willingham can find anywhere near the level of production she did during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, then the club has a chance of progressing to the post-season.
Willingham is a fine player with a nice shooting touch, good range, and looks a great pick-up for Avenida on paper.
But, they will know she is not the solution - just one part of the solution if they are going to find some much needed form.
WISLA ARE WONDERFUL WHEN SO ALIVE
There was a visible outpouring of emotion in Krakow this week as Wisla finally got off the mark at the fourth attempt - something which even as a neutral fan was was a delight to witness. The hugely passionate fans created a superb atmosphere for the team ahead of the tip-off, and every one of the players responded in a big way. It brought Krakow alive again and there are few better sights in women's basketball than Wisla playing like that in front of those supporters.
Yes, it was a stirring performance against Sparta&K, one that oozed incredible levels of energy, detemination and purpose. But best of all, Wisla had to play smart to take down such an excellent team as the Russians. I thought Tina Charles showed her class, Anke De Mondt re-discovered her shooting tough from outside, but Cristina Ouvina was incredible and possibly delivered a breakout performance at the elite level.
|Wisla Can Pack head coach Jose I. Hernandez can now hint at a smile in Krakow|
Additionally, it was hard not to smile when the cameras regularly panned to Jose Hernandez who was in a fist-clenching and air-punching mood. You can hardly blame him. He's been dealt a pretty rough hand of late with injuries and absences, whilst his team could, and should have beaten BK Imos Brno in regulation time a couple of weeks ago.
Unsurprisngly, all of that sheer frustration was therefore released in a euphoric and liberating manner which was great to see, and hearty congratulations are due to both him, and his assistants Jordi Aragones and Artur Golanski.
It was also a result which gave General Manager Piotr Dunin-Suligostowski a real lift after his recent health scare, and I am sure nobody at the usually very gracious Sparta&K would begrudge those guys the victory on a night when they were just the better team.
FOUR AND OH!
At this juncture, I need to hold up my hands in apology to Sparta&K since I failed to mention them in regular despatches before they suffered their first loss of the season. Despite losing to Wisla, they deserve much credit for opening the season with four terrific wins, and I guess there is nothing worse than a great wounded beast like Sparta&K coming off a loss in a competition they are so synonymous with.
The same can also be said for Famila Schio who I have barely mentioned (apologies) and yet they too had such an exceptional first month of the new campaign. I have been particularly impressed with Elodie Godin who has worked tirelessly in the paint and even though she is a French national team player, I always feel she is something of an unsung hero for Schio. Multi-skilled, she has a great eye for a pass and is still the only player to come up with five blocked shots in a single game this season.
WATCH OUT - IT'S RAINING THREES
|Belinda Snell was on song with her long-range shooting for CCC Polkowice against Novi Zagreb|
It seemed that this week's action witnessed some incredible and quite sudden bursts of outstanding three-point shooting - or was it just me? I wasn't specifically watching Belinda Snell light it up for CCC Polkowice, but was taken aback when out of absolutely nowhere, she twice hit back-to-back triples at the start of the final quarter to take the game away from Novi Zagreb.
At almost exactly the same time on a court in Hungary, Jelena Milovanovic caught fire from downtown in the first half for UE Sopron and made a spectacular five-of-six from long range before the half-time buzzer had sounded!
BY THE NUMBERS
Good Angels Kosice are the only team along with CCC Polkowice to claim 20 offensive rebounds in a game - something which made a big difference in their super win this week against Famila Schio. And, it doesn't stop there, since they also found 15 steals for the second time this season to equal their own record which they share with Galatasaray.
Plenette Pierson starred for Good Angels Kosice during Week Five and became the only player along with Sancho Lyttle of Galatasaray to come up with six steals in a game this season - only 24 hours later, they were both surpassed by Amaya Valdemoro who became the first to register a stellar seven steals as she rolled back the years with a vibrant showing for Tarsus in a loss at Gyor.
Elsewhere, the contest between UE Sopron and Municipal Targoviste was a shoot-out...only it came from the free-throw line, where both teams found themselves on a regular basis and especially the Romanian visitors. They smashed the season-high for attempted free-throws with 47 and impressively, Gabriella Marginean sunk a chart-topping 15-from-15 to help seal the win.
Fenerbahce meanwhile was on fire in France this week against Arras. So much so, they shot the best field goal percentage of the season with a terrific 62.5%.