By Paul Nilsen
A Russian Renaissance
|Anastasiya Shilova is averaging a more than solid 12 points and 6 rebounds per game for Dynamo GUVD|
The Russian clubs in EuroCup Women are generally looking strong after Dynamo-GUVD Novosibirsk joined the party by shrugging off their 0-2 start to the season and securing back-to-back wins to give themselves a great chance of progressing.
While things could still go wrong and with the chances of WBC Dynamo Moscow also hanging in the balance, a Russian clean sweep of teams to the next round isn't a certainty by any means but is at least still a possibility.
Both Chevakata and Dynamo Kursk look imperious and are a combined 8-0. While Kursk have generally been the Russian club grabbing most of the limelight so far, Chevakata really are beginning to push hard in terms of continually setting new standards - led by Coach Olga Shuneykina who is proving difficult to please.
Despite demolishing SISU Basket by racking up the joint highest score of the competition with 104 points and also achieving the joint highest field goal percentage of the tournament at a super 60%, it was interesting to hear the play-caller respond by saying, "I'm not perfectly satisfied with the game. We missed too many shots."
With that kind of drive and determination, Chevakata must now be considered as one of the favourites alongside Dynamo Kursk although granted, that can change quickly in the next phase!
Stepanova Bouncing Back
She has been producing good performances and impressive numbers in EuroCup Women as one of the main thrusts behind the ascendancy of MBK Ruzomberok who sit with a 3-1 record after winning a critical overtime game against nearest Group G rivals Partizan Galenika.
Stepanova was absolutely terrific during the first three games of the season with a superb field goal percentage and has also consistently shown her ability to knock down an outside shot. Crucially, when she had a rare off-night offensively in this vital last game, she made up for it defensively with some great stops including 3 steals and 2 big blocks in addition to her usual good work on the glass.
If she continues this kind of form for the remainder of the season then Czech Republic National Team boss Lubor Blazek might just think about her as an option once again and come knocking on her door.
Raining Triples In Kayseri
After suffering a 23 point reverse in Kursk during their previous game, Kayseri Kaskispor hit back with a victory over Maccabi Bnot and it was due to some phenomenal perimeter shooting. The Turkish team converted a stunning 73.7% from downtown as they sunk 14 of 19 triples which not surprisingly was the best performance of the season from outside. Incredibly, the quartet of Bahar Ozturk, Dila Askin, Esra Ural and Aysun Yararbas were absolutely perfect with a combined 12 of 12. I therefore suspect they might have a little fun with Donneka Hodges and Anna De Forge in practice this week who weren't quite as accurate and perhaps dare to joke about the veterans to staying behind for extra practice ahead of the next game!
Career High Landmark For Korstin
It's been a traumatic and turbulent start to the season domestically for Besiktas who has just slumped to 1-5 after defeat over the weekend at EuroCup Women rivals Botas Sports Club. So, it is with great relief that the experienced Ilona Korstin helped them achieve a rare bright spot and at least one reason to smile last week with a great performance to help her team. She may not look it but Korstin is one tough cookie and just when her team needed something special, the Russian national team player landed a career high 15 rebounds to rack up a double-double against Lotto Young Cats which meant her team sits proudly 3-1 and top of Group B. EuroCup Women is certainly proving to be a welcome relief from a torturous time in the Turkish League.
Performance Of The Week - New Horizont
After losing three of their first four games, the chances of Horizont proceeding to the next phase looked to be hanging by the finest of threads. But, having claimed a super road win at WBC Dynamo Moscow, they have revived their chances and could yet sneak through despite their difficult start. If they did manage to get through, it would provide a much needed tonic for Belarus basketball which is still reeling from their dismal and heart-breaking failure at National Team during EuroBasket Women during the summer earlier this year.
Rising Star Round Up
Emma Meesseman continues to show why she is one of the best prospects in Europe with the 18 year old Belgian
|Amanda Zahui is prospering well, being hande plenty of court time for Telg Basket|
claiming a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds for Lotto Young Cats in the loss to Besiktas. Another 1993 born player to claim a double-double was Swedish center Amanda Zahui who racked up yet another double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds for Telge Basket in the defeat at Dynamo-GUVD.
There was a debut for Botas Sports Club prospect Busra Akgun with the 18 year old playing in European competition for the first time and celebrating by scoring from downtown against Lombos. Sixteen year old team-mate Busra Akbas meanwhile achieved her highest score of her fledgling career in the same game after claiming six points. Meanwhile Ana Turcinovic further enhanced her growing reputation after converting a fantastic 5 of 6 for Elitzur Ramla at Spartak Noginsk.
All Eyes Forward
There are only two weeks remaining of the regular season for most teams in the competition and it's the last chance saloon for a number of clubs while others will be looking to seal the deal early. Leading my watch list will be Lotto Young Cats who go head to head again in Group B against Dynamo-GUVD in a critical match-up with both teams 2-2. There is also an identical situation in Group G with Partizan Galenika hosting Basket Landes.
WBC Dynamo really must claim a win in Group A on the road at Lombos to get back into the box seat for second place while my game of the week would be Dexia Namur Capitale in a great looking home game against Nantes Reze in a fiercely competitive Group C.