By Paul Nilsen
|Astou Ndour is averaging a huge double-double of 19.0 points and10.6 rebounds per game for Gran Canaria|
In terms of power and potential, there are few young players anywhere in the World who can match Astou Ndour. The Spanish national youth star is still only 17 years old but setting EuroCup Women alight with some sensational performances and numbers for Gran Canaria 2014.
Remarkably, she is averaging a stellar double-double across the season with an astonishing 19 points and 10.6 rebounds per game having racked up 26 and 16 in a victory at Lemminkainen last time out. It's easy to see why the Senegalese born center made it on to the All-Tournament team at the FIBA U19 World Championship Women in Chile earlier this year.
EuroCup is again providing a great platform for the best young players in Europe to showcase their skills and gain additional experience. I suspect the man most happy about this will be Spanish senior national team coach Jose Hernandez who is looking like he will have to begin building for the future in coming years with a glut of veterans all due to retire relatively soon. That sizeable task looks a little easier when there are players like Ndour out there. Surely it's only a matter of time before a EuroLeague Women team comes knocking on her door although granted, she is still far from the finished product and needs her skills refined. But, what a prospect!
Grishaeva Posts Reminder To Sokolovsky
EuroBasket Women gold medallists Russia are a team packed with talent and while it's not exactly a closed-shop in terms of the roster for the Olympics and perhaps more importantly EuroBasket Women 2013 in France, it will be difficult for players successfuly push hard for a spot.
Nevertheless, it has been interesting watching a number of players in EuroCup Women this season who could begin making a bid to get onto the National Team roster during the next couple of years. In addition to the likes of Anastasiya Shilova and Tatiana Petrushina of Dynamo-GUVD, I think Nadezda Grishaeva has done a great job in th competition with French club Arras this year. Having been at Spartak Moscow Region Vidnoje in EuroLeague Women last season where she played only 1 minute during the Final Four, she has moved from the frustration of a deep bench and given herself room to breathe, play more minutes and I must also say, impress! Still only 22 years old, I think she is playing the kind of basketball to make head coach Boris Sokolovsky think about her as an option, even if it is just one the fringes of his roster. After a slow start to the season, she is one of the form players in EuroCup Women right now and I will be intrigued to see how she performs for the rest of the season.
Stats Don't Lie
There was one statistic which stood out for me during this round of games and it made my physically wince in sympathy for Marina Maljkovic, the head coach of Partizan Galenika. The Belgrade club lost their hugely important home game against Basket Landes despite their French opponents turning the ball over an unbelievable 31 times - more than any other team has in the competition all year. Looking at this, it seems incredible Partizan couldn't take advantage and I was tempted to change the title to ‘Stats Do Lie!" Only, as I examined this game a little further, I winced in sympathy yet again for Maljkovic when I realised her team had only shot 27.5% from the field! Ouch! So, perhaps stat's don't lie after all. With a possibility of still qualifying, Partizan will be hoping this won't turn into the one potential victory which slipped through their fingers and resulted in their EuroCup Women campaign shuddering to a premature halt.
Performance Of The Week - Dexia Namur Capitale
Dexia Namur Capitale hosted Nantes Reze last week in what was a high pressure match-up since the Belgian club knew defeat would be disastrous. However to the delight of head coach Dan Goethals, his players claimed a priceless 86-76 win which takes Group C down to the wire. Central to this victory was a super 47 point dual contribution from Ifunanya Ibekwe and Laurence Van Malderen.
Rising Star Round Up
There were plenty of strong performances by the teenage contingent for the aptly named Lotto Young Cats with Emma Meesseman leading the way with a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds to go with 5 assists although she has definitely had better shooting nights. Her team mates Antonia Delaere, Julie Vanloo and Sien Devliegher all had impressive and efficient shooting performances.
WBC Dynamo Moscow guard Ekaterina Fedorenkova produced her best display in EuroCup Women with the 18 year old registering 6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals although it couldn't prevent a loss in Portugal. Congratulations are due to Janina Nikitina of Horizont who scored the first basket of her career in EuroCup Women in the game against Botas while 17 year old Maryia Papova of Olimpia Grodno claimed 5 points and 3 rebounds.
All Eyes Forward
There are a few groups which have certainly thrown up a potentially riveting and nail-biting last week of regular season action as a number of teams battle it out to make the second phase of the competition. Group C will be fascinating as both Nantes Reze and Dexia-Namur both hit the road as they bid to claim second place. The former are at Optimum Ted Ankara and the latter at AD Vagos in Portugal. Group F is even more finely balance with a calculator perhaps required since two teams are currently 3-2 and the other two teams 2-3! Meanwhile in Group A, WBC Dynamo have the unenviable task of having to inflict defeat on the imperious 5-0 Botas and if they fail to do so, will regret throwing away a glorious opportunity with last week's 77-74 loss at Lombos.