By Paul Nilsen
|Marta Xargay and Salamanca face Elitzur Ramla in the first title game of the season|
Silverware will be on the line for the first time this season when the third SuperCup Women takes place in Salamanca, Spain.
Reigning EuroLeague Women champions Perfumerias Avenida will lock horns with EuroCup Women winners Elitzur Prashkovsky Ramla in what promises to be an intriguing match-up - even if a few headline names will be missing.
Perfumerias Avenida will be without injured Dewanna Bonner who will have to put her debut on ice due to injury and with FIBA Americas MVP and gold medal winner Erika De Souza still fulfilling WNBA commitments, the Spanish team have had to act to strengthen their roster.
They have penned a one month deal with Marissa Coleman who will deputise for Bonner and with EuroLeague Women experience from her time in both Schio and Sopron, she looks like a potentially nice fit for Coach Lucas Mondelo and his team.
It would be fair to say that at the start of the year, few people could have envisaged either club lining up in this SuperCup Women game and their respective successes in each competition certainly surprised many observers.
Consequently for everyone involved with both clubs, it promises to be another great night when they can relish the prospect of adding to their trophy haul and experiencing that sweet winning feeling once again before the hard slog of another gruelling season.
While a few key personnel will be missing and many of those who lifted the EuroLeague Women title with Perfumerias Avenida have since moved on to pastures new, there will still be an array of top performers on the floor and eager to put on a show.
As far as Elitzur Ramla are concerned, it would be hard to surpass what they experienced when they overpowered Arras to be crowned EuroCup Women champions. It was a watershed moment and a monumental breakthrough in trying to put Women's basketball on the map of mainstream sports fans in Israel.
However, this is also a special game in terms of recognition which will further promote their accomplishment and if they can produce a good performance, it is not beyond them to surprise once again - although of course not many teams manage to get a victory in Salamanca. It will be tough.
For fans of Women's basketball across Europe, it also gives the briefest glimpse once again (as it did last year with Sony Athinaikos) of how a club from a country with no EuroLeague Women representatives might fare if they one day choose to make the step up.
|Shay Doron has plenty of EuroLeague Women experience inher locker and will be one of the main weapons of Elitzur Ramla|
Key Match-Up - Elitzur Ramla will no doubt pin-point the backcourt as the area where they can win this game. The prolific scoring of Shay Doron and strong defence of Tanasha Wright could prove to be a real handful for Perfumerias Avenida who is relatively short on options since you could probably have expected Bonner to have the ball in her hands for quite a lot of time had she been healthy. Instead, much now will rest on the likes of young Marta Xargay and the veteran hands of Laura Antoja although others such as Marta Fernandez will probably help out.
Rising Star - It's fantastic to see one of the best young talents in Europe, namely Ana Turcinovic, step up a level in the wake of her fantastic performances at EuroBasket Women with Montenegro. She is about as fearless a player as you will ever see and every time she was on the floor in Poland during the summer, you couldn't fail to be impressed by her demeanour and willingness to take the physical battle in the paint to the big name stars. Watching a seventeen year old fighting for position under the basket with the likes of Nevriye Yilmaz as if her life depended on it was just great to watch. If she can take this opportunity and develop her game in coming years, she could be a great player and with another three seasons until she is even twenty one, time is definitely on her side.
‘X-Factor' - It goes without saying that defence will be important in a game of this magnitude but especially for Elitzur Ramla who will be playing on the road in front of a big crowd and will certainly be up against it. So, the defence of Tanasha Wright could be huge. She was named in the WNBA All Defensive Team recently and if she can do a good job of pressuring the ball, it could make all the difference against a team without great depth in the backcourt. Equally, the hosts will have identified their stacked frontcourt as where they can out-muscle and overpower the visitorsto secure another fine success.