By Paul Nilsen
|The two Portuguese clubs in the competition were on the receiving end of heart-breaking losses this week, with Vagos falling to Optimum Ankara in the last second and Lombos losing at WBC Dynamo by a single point|
There was a strong sense of déjà vu during Week Two of EuroCup Women with Turkish teams winning again (if only just) and Swedish young guns Telge Basket causing another stir.
SWEET SEVENTEEN FOR TURKEY
The stunning unbeaten run of Turkish teams winning in Europe this season was extended to 17 games but it took a beautifully dramatic climax to this week's action to preserve the perfect record.
With Botas Spor and Kayseri Kaskispor safely securing victories, it took Besiktas overtime to secure a sixteenth success against a valiant Telge Basket. The team from Sweden pushed their more experienced rivals really hard and while the history books won't reflect it, this was perhaps even more impressive than their opening night win last week against Dynamo-GUVD.
For sure, any overtime loss is difficult to take but nevertheless it's hugely encouraging to see such a young and inexperienced team play so maturely against a quality opponent and adds more fuel to the notion that Swedish basketball can smile proudly right now, knowing things are heading in the right direction.
There was even more high drama in the very last game of Week 2 after it had looked as if Optimum Ted Ankara would be the first team from Turkey to be defeated this season.They fell behind with just four seconds remaining on the road at AD Vagos but, incredibly, in what was literally the very last second of EuroCup Women action for the entire week, Gulsah Akkaya made a buzzer-beater to keep the run going.
HEARTBREAK IS THE THEME OF THE WEEK
The loss to Optimum Ted Ankara was of course gut-wrenching for AD Vagos and especially on Flavia Do Santos, who had racked up an immense double-double of 32 points and 12 rebounds and Joana Lopes who also had a double-double.
Indeed heartbreak was a theme this week since, in addition to AD Vagos, Portuguese rivals Lombos also had to swallow a rather bitter pill when they went down by a single point at WBC Dynamo. I suppose with expectations not too high of the Portuguese clubs, it was at least encouraging to see them get so close to what would have been two huge successes against their respective Turkish and Russian opponents.
One of the most interesting results came in Kursk where the home team was taken to overtime by a brave Maccabi Bnot and it was a close-run thing for the unbeaten Russian side. While a real choker for the Israeli club, there is little arguing that Dynamo Kursk are playing as a team and sharing the load. For in the statistical game high charts, they take the top three spots for assists with 25, 25 and 24 for each of those respective games!
PROPS TO THE VETS
While my focus tends to mainly be on the rising stars of Women's basketball in Europe, I guess we should never forget the veterans and especially those who continue to excel after most of their peers from back in the day have hung up their sneakers for good.
Two such players are Taj McWilliams and Elena Baranova. The former, who is 41 years old, didn't play this week but having had a superb season last year in EuroLeague Women, she played well on her EuroCup Women debut with defending champions Elitzur Ramla last week.
|Antonia Delaere and the Lotto Young Cats, a team laden with young Belgian internationals, earned an impressive victory in Novosibirsk |
The latter meanwhile, who will celebrate her 40th birthday in less than two months, is still going strong and played a part in Chevakata winning this week with 9 rebounds in the game with BBC Sint-Katelijne-Waver.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: YOUNG CATS PURRFECT IN RUSSIA!
It was a close call for the performance of the week accolade with Daniel Goethals and his Dexia Namur Capitale team claiming an excellent win at Nantes Reze.
However, I must give the award this week to Lotto Young Cats who were also victorious on the road after securing a terrific 75-69 success in Russia at Dynamo-GUVD.
The irony of losing out on the award to his Belgian rivals won't be lost on Goethals, since many of the Young Cats players have worked with the play-caller at youth level for Belgium including the likes of Emma Meesseman, Antonia Delaere, Heleen Adams, Sien Devliegher and Julie Vanloo, who incidentally didn't play in this game.
The win was particularly impressive since the visitors were behind by double-digits at the start of the fourth period.
RISING STAR ROUND-UP
Ekaterina Fedorenkova didn't enjoy the greatest shooting night for WBC Dynamo Moscow but the 18-year-old did manage a very impressive 5 assists to help her team dig out the win.
Astou Ndour had another big game for Gran Canaria with 24 points while 19-year-old Monika Grigalauskyte had an impressive double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds in the same game for Lemminkainen.
Elsewhere, Sarah Ousfar grabbed the first score of her career in European competition for Basket Landes and Amanda Zahui of Telge Basket didn't finish around the hoop as well as she is capable of, but still posted a double-double including another phenomenal effort on the glass with a mammoth 15 rebounds on the road at Besiktas.
ALL EYES FORWARD
Week Three promises so much and could potentially be the most exciting to date. The Turkish teams will really have to excel to extend their winning streak with all four on the road and Kayseri Kaskispor look to have the most difficult task since they are due to play in Kursk.
Lotto Young Cats and Telge Basket have caught the headlines during the first couple of weeks and they lock horns in what could be a great game and especially for fans with an interest in rising stars.
Two other really nice looking games worth a specific mention are Gran Canaria 2014 who host Hainaut Basket, meaning one of them will pick up their first loss. Meanwhile champions Elitzur Ramla travel to USO Mondeville in what will be a tough test of their credentials as they try to defend their coveted title.