|06 December 2013|
|Queralt Casas is going from strength to strength for Rivas|
fibeurope.com women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen takes a look back on the fifth week of EuroLeague Women action.
QUALITY OF CASAS ERASES DOUBTS
You have to love the on-court whirlwind which is Spanish guard Queralt Casas. A true leader during a glittering youth career for her country that was laden with gold, she is now showing she is close to making a full and wholesome transition to the senior game.
Sure, she played last year in her debut season and showed what she is all about, but her EuroLeague Women career-high 21 points this week showed that she can and will deliver offensively at this level.
She was always going to be a defensive asset with arguably the quickest hands in the competition. Additionally, she was always going to potentially win games with steals and get scores in transition. My only slight concern was whether she could be dominant and potential MVP material in the same way as she did during youth championships.
After her effort this week, plus the added confidence and experience of being crowned a EuroBasket Women winner and also throwing in the fact she has only just turned 21, I am convinced Casas is here to stay as a EuroLeague Women player and a major contributor.
I absolutely love Casas because she always has a big smile on her face, is great to watch on the court and is the kind of exciting and fun ‘next generation' star the competition is always looking for.
She is also making a strong case in nailing down her place in the Spanish team which is heading to the FIBA World Championship for Women next year.
I am not saying she is the complete package just yet at the elite level, but the signs are good and long may her fine work continue with Rivas and the Spanish national team.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
|Good Angels Kosice are once more showing their Final Eight credentials on the back of a classy road win in Italy|
There was plenty of choice including another nice win for the undefeated ZVVZ USK Prague, a first success of the season for under-pressure Nadezhda Orenburg, but I am handing the honour this week to Good Angles Kosice. I can't see many teams going to Italy and winning against a strong and well organised Beretta Famila Schio team, so their victory in Group A was the most impressive of the week in my book!
MOMENT OF THE WEEK
The final buzzer sounding in Orenburg and palpable sound of relief as the owners, coaching staff, players and fans of Nadezhda celebrated for the first time this season and avoided the unimaginable prospect of a fatal 0-5 record in group B.
SLIDING ONTO THE RADAR
There must have been something in the water during week five, since a number of coaches turned to their youngest players and put them onto the radar.
Leading the way for the youngsters was Croatian starlet Ivana Dojkic, who made her debut in the competition with a fleeting appearance for WBC Novi Zagreb in Salamanca. The '97-born prospect is still only 15 years old and became only the ninth player in EuroLeague Women history to play any minutes before celebrating her 16th birthday, something she will do on Christmas Eve. She led her nation to the quarter-finals of the U16 European Championship Women during the summer with a fantastic 14.1 points per game.
Another '97 born player is Virag Weninger who was given a handful of minutes last season for UE Sopron and gained her first outing of the current campaign this week. She helped Hungary onto the podium at the U16 European Championship Women and indeed played against Dojkic in the quarter-finals of that tournament to also propel her country to their first FIBA U17 World Championship for Women place next year.
|Ivana Dojkic: Just 15 and already has EuroLeague Women minutes to her name|
'96 born Laura Quevedo claimed gold at the U18 European Championship Women in Croatia, as Spain completed their historic clean sweep of all women's medals during the year. The forward was again given minutes by Rivas Ecopolis by head coach Jose Hernandez and may be about to begin contributing with some cameos off the bench - if she continues her development.
Fleur Devillers helped France to reach that U18 Final in Vukovar against Quevedo and Co earlier this year and she was handed EuroLeague Women minutes for the first time with Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration.
Also in France, the talented Lisa Berkani didn't get onto the court for her debut, but did make her way onto the bench of Tango Bourges and the '97 born player is firmly on my watch-list for coming seasons.
Finally, I can't help but to be continually impressed with Daria Namok who made yet another nice little cameo display for Sparta&K M.R.Vidnoje and looks like she could be a very decent contributor at this level if she continues to learn and work hard.
Natalia Zhedik had the hot-hand for Nadezhda and was responsible for them posting the best three-point shooting display by any team so far this season. They made 72.7% of their shots from downtown on eight of their 11 attempts.
Perfumerias Avenida claimed a tournament season-high 18 steals in their home victory against WBC Novi Zagreb.
Diana Taurasi stormed to the top of the individual game-high assists chart by amassing 13 of them in the rout of Kayseri Kaski spor by hometown team UMMC Ekaterinburg.
CCC Polkowice wing Belinda Snell was outstanding and drew a season-high 11 fouls against ZVVZ USK Prague, but it was not enough to avoid a narrow loss.
Emerging Czech frontcourt star Alena Hanusova is making a name for herself in EuroLeague Women and she has been helped by her form from the free-throw line. She missed her very first free-throw of the season, but has since sunk a sensational 26 consecutive free-throws for BK Imos Brno.
You can follow Paul @basketmedia365 for women's basketball tweets.