By Paul Nilsen
THE SWEETEST SIXTEEN
|Emma Meesseman led the Young Cats to victory with another stellar performance of 18 points and 9 rebounds|
When Belgian side Lotto Young Cats locked horns with Swedish visitors Telge Basket, it provided one of the best possible adverts for EuroCup Women and the role the competition plays in helping to develop young talent. The teams didn't disappoint after producing an overtime thriller and it was incredible to think that of the twenty players who participated in the game, an absolutely astonishing sixteen of them were born in the nineties.
That is a wonderful statistic for those of us who just love to see young players being given the opportunity to flourish and hone their skills at this level. Although perhaps not so good in the sense it makes you feel really old! For sure some of the young players didn't shoot the ball as well as they are capable of but collectively it proved great entertainment for those who were able to watch the game.
TURKISH DELIGHT TURNS TO TEARS
After a flawless start to European competition by Turkish teams, the spectacular 17-0 winning streak turned into a far from perfect record after a generally miserable week for those in EuroCup Women.
Besiktas JK were beaten by Dynamo GUVD in Russia by 68-60 with a double-double from Ilona Korstin in her homeland not enough to save them. Optimum Ted Ankara was routed 94-70 at Nantes Reze while Kayseri Kaskispor suffered a similar fate at Dynamo Kursk. Botas Sports Club was the only team from Turkey to win in EuroCup Women this week after an impressive 89-75 success at WBC Dynamo. Nevertheless, respect is due to all teams who contributed to the 17-0 record.
Before this round, the previous highest score in the competition by an individual was 32 points but four players all passed that landmark this week with Lenae Williams leading the way, pouring in a mammoth 38 points which unsurprisingly was a career high score for her. Similarly, in relation to assists, the previous game high was 10 but Whitney Boddie, Ausra Bimbaite and Caroline Aubert all racked up 11 assists.
Meanwhile Dynamo GUVD center Natalya Myasoedova became the first player to pull down 19 rebounds and team-mate Maria Khrustaleva joined the party with a flawless shooting night on her way to 12 points and 6 assists. Elsewhere in Russia, Dynamo Kursk smashed their own assists record with 29 in their game with Kayseri Kaskispor meaning they now take the top four spots for assists in the game high charts.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
There were plenty of contenders including the likes of Dynamo GUVD, MBK Ruzomberok and Saint-Amand Hainaut Basket but after a turbulent few weeks in Israel due to a dispute between players and the league, defending EuroCup Women champions Elitzur Ramla put the recent troubles aside to rack up an impressive 63-55 road win at USO Mondeville Basket. It was a statement to their rivals to show they won't be giving up their prized silverware without a fight and that back to back titles is not necessarily beyond them.
RISING STAR ROUND-UP
Eighteen year old Natallia Baklaha scored six points and had five steals with the best performance of her fledgling career for BC Horizont during an excellent win at Lombos. Only two days later though, Lombos hit right back with a 84-79 overtime triumph. Ana Turcinovic scored an efficient 9 points in 14 minutes for Elitzur Ramla and Monika Grigalauskayte produced another strong performance for Lemminkainen Klaipeda with 8 points and 11 rebounds.
Three teams with plenty of rising stars are Lotto Young Cats, Telge Basket and Gran Canaria 2014. The Spanish club had 16 year old Leticia Romero score 7 points and the outstanding 17 year old powerhouse Astou Ndour claim a massive double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds in the home loss to Hainaut Basket. Emma Meesseman led the way for Lotto Young Cats with 18 points and 9 rebounds while for the visitors both Binta Drammeh and Cleopatra Forsman-Goga achieved double-doubles but endured a disappointing shooting night.
ALL EYES FORWARD
I should be most interesting watching to see how the three Turkish clubs bounce back after last week's disappointing losses. In particular Besiktas JK who host Lotto Young Cats with both teams having 2-1 records in Group B while the same can be said of MBK Ruzomberok and Partizan Galenika since they currently share a lead at the top of Group G with a 2-1 record.