|Spanish coach Lucas Mondelo, who led Perfumerias Avenida to the EuroLeague Women title last season, is for sure someone who knows very well what it takes to lift the coveted trophy|
Hello EuroLeague Women fans,
I have been asked to do an ‘X-ray' analysis, to summarise what could happen at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight in Istanbul, to comment on this year's participating teams and the first year of the new format!
Evidently it will be very exciting seeing eight teams at such a high level competing each day.
This will be a true spectacle with the guarantee of a huge basketball party with eight sets of fans behind their respective teams, a whole week of the very best basketball and of course, the wonderful Istanbul as a backdrop to the occasion.
I must say that, in principle, this attractive format will reward the larger teams (rosters) and even allow them an error given that there are various games.
It will penalise the smaller teams given that we are passing from two games to four games and it's essential to play to the maximum each day, something they will pay for!
Before talking a little about each team, I will mention who my favourites are for the EuroLeague Women title.
In descending order, I think the two most complete rosters are that of Ros Casares and after that UMMC Ekaterinburg who, unluckily, year after year, present a big team but never seem to win.
Next I would say Galatasaray and Fenerbache who are playing at home, something they both have in common while they also present large teams, are very compact and on top of that, they do not meet Ros or Ekat in the group.
It would be a huge surprise if two of these four were not playing for the title.
Thirdly, if I had to pick a dark horse, that would be Wisla Can-Pack for its quality. Just to break out of the group would be an aspiration but not less important because even to get here is a great success. They may be dangerous rivals and they can be judges.
As for Rivas Ecopolis, Beretta-Famila Schio and Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje: what happens with these is that they have smaller rosters than the rest and with a lot of quality,yes, but it won't be easy for them to play three consecutive games following the play-offs.
It will depend upon how they manage the times of their games and if they can conserve their best players. This will directly relate to their level of success.
|Mondelo looks beyond the obvious favourites and says that if there's a team capable of an upset, it's Wisla Can-Pack, thanks to a quality roster that includes the likes of Erin Phillip |
Next, let me say a little something about each team!
Ros Casares truly has two world-class players at each position and one of those is Maya Moore, who those in the know say she will be the best player in the world! They have a physical based game and focus on controlling the rebounds and transition.
Next we look at UMMC Ekaterinburg who is apparently very similar to Ros with two world-class players as well. It's possible that the player who will make a difference is Sue Bird, who will try to be a team player in this all-star cast and use her wisdom on the pick and roll.
These two teams meet each other on day one, so one of them could get eliminated almost instantly, it's too much pressure.
Fenerbahce is unbeaten in the EuroLeague Women and have a very balanced team in all positions with a defined style.
They have a very high pace and numerous resources, their handicap may be in the short rotation while Angel McCoughtry is without a doubt their main star.
Galatasaray Medical Park is playing at home with a lot of tricks in defence, a great centre in Tina Charles and with Diana Taurasi - the best in the world.
It is a team made to win, they have a good scoring rate, they alternate their two ‘monsters' but of course we get to see the damage done by the absence of last year's EuroLeague Women MVP Alba Torrens in these three games.
Wisla Can-Pack is a team with height and size. They are large and physical, with a lot of control in the game.
Then, with Nicole Powell and Erin Phillips capable of making it to the basket, the opening calendar can favour them if they beat Sparta&K who they already beat twice in Round 1 prior to this. For me, they are the dark horse.
Beretta-Famila Schio is a team with a great starting five with very little rotation. They have a pure point guard and small forward and a 'true' center.
It is a team based on great defence, the controlling of the game by Liron Cohen and the intelligence and versatility of Janel McCarville. In terms of the fuel provided by both, they can be a very dangerous rival.
Rivas Ecopolis is a team with a lot of talent although their options depend on the recovery of Amaya Valdemoro which is destabilizing.
However, if they can find a reserve for Elisa Aguilar (given that the injury of Clara Bermejo hurts them) and also if they can run, then Rivas is a team capable of beating anyone.
Sparta&K M. R. Vidnoje is a great team with players that grow in these kind of moments and are very comfortable playing these types of games. They have regular scoring from Seimone Augustus and the work of Irina Osipova and Candice Dupree will be the key to their success.
I hope that even in this summarised way, I have helped guide you a little towards this exciting upcoming Final Eight and I'll certainly be there from Thursday to savour every moment from the front row!
Lucas Mondelo Garcia