|25 October 2013|
|Tina Charles represents a massive acquisition for WBC Dynamo Moscow|
We take a look at the teams competing in Group D of EuroCup Women, including the defending champions.
After significant investment in the team during the summer,following on from their glorious EuroCup Women triumph last season, it looks like WBC Dynamo Moscow have a terrific chance of successfully defending their title.
Whilst they have lost veteran Russian duo Svetlana Abrosimova and Ilona Korstin who both decided to retire on a high, they have assembled a roster that would grace EuroLeague Women.
The acquisition of former WNBA MVP Tina Charles is their standout signing and the center is joined by the classy Lindsay Whalen who will direct traffic in the backcourt.
Standout guard Kristi Toliver stays on board after her impressive production en-route to the top of the podium, but it looks like it will be Charles and Whalen stepping out as the non-Europeans.
The other notable addition is the dynamic and free-scoring swingman Ana Dabovic. The Serbian national team star goes back to Russia having had a breakthrough season a few years ago with Dynamo-Novosibirsk.
The frontcourt will not only have Charles as centre-stage, will also be populated with several Russian players who have senior national team experience, including Nadezhda Grishaeva, Irina Sokolovskaya and Tatiana Vidmer.
Istanbul Universitesi should provide the main challenge and may even be installed as co-favourites in what is a historic first season in European club competition for the Turkish team.
|Crystal Langhorne will come up against old club Dynamo Moscow early in the season as a new signing for Istanbul Universitesi|
They have also assembled a EuroLeague Women level quality roster, with a number of high profile players with plenty of experience. Center Crystal Langhorne was outstanding last season when she won the competition with Dynamo and she will immediately get to play against her former club.
Langhorne will compete for court time alongside veteran Russian Irina Osipova who stays on the roster having played last season for Universitesi. Melisa Can is always capable of putting up big numbers and moves from Galatasaray via Tarsus, whilst the highly-rated Pinar Demirok comes in from last years' beaten finalist Kayseri Kaski spor.
Scoring-wise, there is plenty of instant offence from the small forward spots with both Romanian star Gabriella Marginean and Shenise Johnson, who had a big first season in Europe playing with UE Sopron in EuroLeague Women last year.
The backcourt will see the experienced hand of Israeli guard Liron Cohen pulling the strings and the Turkish core includes two other veteran players in the shape of national team duo Nilay Karteltepe and Tugba Palazoglu.
Spartak Noginsk step out for their sixth successive campaign in the competition, relying on a core of largely Russian players, although Croatian Matea Vrdoljak has made an impression in the Russian Premier League since joining from EuroLeague Women participants WBC Novi Zagreb during the summer.
Also new to the roster is center Yulia Kiseleva, who did a fine job in the paint during the last few seasons in the competition for Chevakata. At the other end of the floor, shooting guard Marina Karpunina has Olympic, EuroBasket Women and EuroLeague Women experience under her belt.
The club has also retained several top performers from last year, including two of their top three scorers in Maria Merzlyakova and Anna Petish.
Olimpia Grodno will be hoping they can cause a few surprises as they head into their third year playing in the tournament, although this time without the skills of rising star Maryia Papova who has moved on.
However, there is still a nice mixture of young talent and veteran know-how to call upon - as well as huge continuity with the roster almost the same as the one that competed last year.
Four of their top five contributors have re-signed, including Ukrainian center Lyubov Alyoshkina, shooting guard Nadzeya Drozd, the exciting Maryia Filonchyk and versatile Tetiana Shchypakina.