|18 October 2013|
|Ana Lelas is a welcome addition to the Mersin Buyuksehir Bld line up for this season|
We take a look at the prospects of the four contenders in Group B of EuroCup Women.
Chevakata Vologda have been a regular contender during recent seasons, reaching the latter stages of the competition, but never quite managing to make that last crucial step into the Final. They will be hoping they can make another strong run once again in what will be their 11th straight EuroCup Women season.
However, head coach Dmitry Donskov generally has a young team to knock into shape - although a very narrow opening day loss in the Russian League against reigning EuroCup Women champions Dynamo Moscow showed that Chevakata will again be a particularly noteworthy team.
Montenegrin guard Snezana Aleksic has come into a new-look backcourt alongside Angelisha Goodrich, whilst there are new arrivals on the wings and in the frontcourt too. Russian national team player Liudmila Sapova returns to the club with her EuroLeague Women and Eurobasket Women experience, whilst import player Victoria Baugh should provide some muscle in the paint.
There is a wealth of very talented young Russian players who know EuroCup Women very well, including the likes of Tatiana Petrushina, Anastasiya Shilova and Anastasia Logunova, but watch out for rising talent Albina Razheva. She is a terrific prospect and has been excellent for the Russian youth teams, including at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women during the summer.
Mersin Buyuksehir Bld, should be strong due to the fact they have to compete every week in the high class Turkish League, where they excelled last season. They could do so again, as well as making a strong run in EuroCup Women, after a busy summer recruiting some big names.
Croatian standout Ana Lelas brings great leadership and forward skills to the party, whilst the acquisition of twin sisters Ashley and Courtney Paris is a big coup. The latter has torn it up in a big way in the competition during the last couple of seasons when she was unstoppable at times for Adana Botas. Matee Ajavon meanwhile is a WNBA player with huge qualities and great experience.
In terms of the Turkish players, Gokce Dogan will be vitally important, as will teenager Merve Aydin, one of the best and smartest players of her generation and a senior national team star of the future for sure.
Bulgarian champions Dunav 8806 have landed a national team leader in Jaklin Zlatanova, something which is an immeasurable bonus heading into their campaign. Having had last season disrupted by serious injury at Rivas Ecopolis in EuroLeague Women, Zlatanova now has a great chance to rebuild in her homeland.
Also arriving is Caroline Turin, an experienced Swiss national team player who is a very capable performer and having played for Helios in the competition, she should do a good job for the team and offer a scoring threat. American frontcourt pair Tia Lewis and Shante Evans will be expected to help the team to compete and excel in the paint.
Finally, Norrkoping Dolphins will represent Sweden in a historic first step for the club and also look to continue the buzz created by the women's national team during their roller-coaster, but gripping and wonderful exploits at EuroBasket Women in France.
There is certainly a pathway between the two teams with head coach Lars Johansson receiving deserved plaudits for his efforts in the summer and also being given a new contract by the Swedish Federation taking him up until 2016. He will be particularly keen to get the Dolphins competitive, especially on home soil.
There is added continuity with the presence of several national team players, including guards Malin Aasa and Frida Aili, along with dynamic forward Elisabeth Egnell, who was outstanding in Damligan last year and is capable of coming up with the points required to inspire wins in EuroCup Women.
American playmaker Tamar Gruwell has been drafted in, whilst compatriot Anne Farell showed her qualities last year with Rilski Sportist, in Bulgaria and she will occupy the center spot.