|Epiphanny Prince has played a key role in earning Dynamo Kursk the #1 seeding for the Eighth Finals|
Sixteen teams go head to head in the EuroCup Women Eighth Finals this week, looking to put themselves in a position to advance to the last eight, and extend their participation into the new calendar year.
Yet to taste defeat so far, top seeds Dynamo Kursk continue to be one of the favourites for the tournament - something which isn't exactly surprising with a star-laden roster that wouldn't look out of place in EuroLeague Women. They lead the tournament in points and also steals per-game, thanks mainly to Epiphanny Prince who gets an average of 3.3. This is bad news for their Czech opponents who spill the ball more times per-game than anyone else in the competition. VS Prague need to remain competitive on this, the home leg of the tie, not least, because the last time they made a trip to Russia, they lost 83-40 at Dynamo Moscow.
Still sitting proudly at the top of the French League, as well being the most deadly shooting team in EuroCup Women, Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration will be favoured to advance at the expense of Adana Botas - although the Turkish club boasts a true stand-out performer in powerhouse center Courtney Paris. She has been terrific and is averaging a season double-double of 19.5 points and 11 rebounds per game, but most impressive of all is her 73.9% field goal percentage. BLMA meanwhile have more depth to utilise, especially offensively, with four players currently averaging in double digits. One of those is top-scorer Geraldine Robert, who has converted a wonderful 33-of-47 attempts so far this season.
Whilst Horizont won't be favourites to progress as their seeding suggests, they do have a couple of reasons to be hopeful that they can reach the Last Eight. Firstly, they have already taken the sizeable scalp of last years' finalist and Turkish League title contenders Kayseri Kaski spor in Minsk this season, and secondly, Hainaut is rock bottom of the French League with a 1-9 record, and could be vulnerable as confidence potentially drains away. Horizont will be searching for their third straight home win via the in-form Kristina Alikina. She was the game-winner against Telge Basket last week, and is shooting over 60% this season, although the key will be competing on the glass against Stefanie Murphy and Vera Perostiyska.
|MBK Ruzomberok need to shut down Yvonne Turner if they are going to topple Dynamo-GUVD|
MBK Ruzomberok were dealt a lucky hand by Elitzur Ramla withdrawing, but the Slovak club made the most of their second chance and will look to capitalise on it further by reaching the quarter-finals. In order to do so, they must shackle Yvonne Turner whose combo guard skills have illuminated this season for Dynamo GUVD. She averages 3.8 assists per game and is shooting over 50% from long-range. The Russian club is likely to focus their defensive attention on the main scoring thrust for MBK Ruzomberok which is most definitely Sequoia Holmes. She has only played four games, but has already poured in an impressive 84 points
Caroline Aubert should again prove to be the class playmaker Nantes require to progress in this tie, since she is averaging 4.8 assists per game and also knocking down triples with impressive consistency. Her smooth game is typical of a Nantes team who aren't big in the paint or on the glass, and will therefore have to be prepared to deal with the physicality and aggressive approach of Olimpia, spearheaded by both Nadzeya Drozd who leads the Belarus team with 3.3 assists and 2.5 steals, and the experienced Lyubov Alyoshkina who has excelled under the hoop
This could be an unpredictable match-up given that Antakya have already parted with two head coaches this season and lost their two most recent games in the tournament, yet still look dangerous. They have a hard-nosed frontcourt with Jana Vesela, Ana Turcinovic and Shekinna Stricklen, but also have arguably the most in-form player of the competition in Jolene Anderson, who has exploded in almost every facet of the game. Chevakata know what it takes to make the latter stages, having missed out on the final by just one point over two legs against Arras two years ago. Glory Johnson is their main hope, with the center averaging a season double-double of 18 points and 12.2 rebounds
|Kristi Toliver has been doing a fantastic job distributing the ball for Dynamo Moscow|
This could be a fascinating tie that could come down to which team is best on the glass. Notably, Tarbes has already collected a win in Russia having blown away Spartak Noginsk. The key for Tarves will be their ability to guard Kristi Toliver, who is doing a great job distributing and getting steals for easy transition scores. Therefore, the likes of Joyce Cousseins and Gaby Ocete need to take care of the ball and hope their backcourt partner Paoline Salagnac can find her range from the perimeter
Last years' finalist Kayseri Kaski spor face Mersin whom they crushed 80-62 last weekend in domestic action, showing that despite the seeding, they are probably favoured to advance after six wins from seven games in the Turkish League. They have huge firepower via the hot-hand of Evanthia Maltsi and with Asjha Jones also now warming up nicely; they look to be a strong unit. Mersin knows it will be difficult and require an improved display from their last outing in Kayseri. Essential will be the phenomenal rebounding prowess of Erlana Larkins, the inside-outside contribution of Chantelle Handy and the dynamic guard play of Shavonte Zellous.