|Lindsay Whalen has parted Galatasaray alledgedly citing pay issues|
The EuroLeague Women title hopes of Galatasaray suffered a major setback after star playmaker Lindsay Whalen departed over the weekend, whilst Rivas and Spanish national team center Laura Nicholls is taking an indefinite break from the sport.
WHALEN WALKS OUT
The all-action contribution of USA national team guard Whalen has been one of the primary factors in Galatasaray safely reaching the EuroLeague Women play-offs as fourth seeds, having led the way in scoring with 13.6 points-per-game and also in assists, with 4.4 per-game.
But, having walked out and now no longer in the country after an alleged dispute over delayed salary payments, Gala are likely to sorely miss the hard-working contribution of the guard who has also averaged an impressive 5.1 rebounds-per-game.
Having already exited, Whalen wasn't in the line-up or the clubs' Turkish League game against Edremit Belediye, although it had little impact as Gala stormed to an 88-33 victory with Ann Wauters pouring in 27 points and Sylvia Fowles adding a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Whalen's departure leaves Galatasaray with little time to find a replacement player for their EuroLeague Women campaign with the window for clubs to gain eligibility for new players for the tournament shutting this Wednesday.
Fenerbahce remain top of the standings after a hard-fought 68-59 road win at Istanbul University, although there was a shock elsewhere as Kayseri Kaski spor lost second spot after crashing 84-71 to relegation-threatened Besiktas. FormerTurkish national team player Gulsah Akkaya scored 20 points and in mitigation of the losing side, they were missing key personnel including Nicky Anosike and Evanthia Maltsi.
The result allowed fourth place Mersin to take advantage after they claimed a 71-65 home win against fifth place Tarsus, thanks mainly to a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds from Erlana Larkins.
NO MORE NICHOLLS AT RIVAS
|Laura Nicholls has cited personal reasons behind her idefinite departure from Rivas Ecopolis|
It was certainly a bitter-sweet weekend for Liga Femenina leaders Rivas Ecopolis. They had the double boost of taking a 66-57 win at UNB Obenasa and benefitting from main title challengers Perfumerias Avenida dropping to a 69-59 loss at third placed Uni Spar Girona, but were left rocked by the decision of Laura Nicholls to take a career break.
The center, who turns 24 later this month, has decided to return home to her native Cantabria for personal reasons, something which the club has supported her with, promising to keep the door open should Nicholls decide to return.
It is however a blow for Rivas ahead of their crunch EuroLeague Women play-off series with Famila Schio, since the player has contributed a useful 5.2 points and five rebounds per game and is also a solid defensive presence. Equally, there will also be potential ramifications for the Spanish senior national team if she is not available for EuroBasket Women in France.
ARRAS BACK IN TROUBLE
After their recent renaissance, Arras have been dumped back into relegation trouble and to the foot of the French League after they were beaten 72-64 at Hainaut Basket, who moved to five wins and climbed above their rivals. Ifunaya Ibekwe was the game winner with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Both clubs are still a couple of victories adrift from the pack immediately above them, with three teams sitting on seven wins. USO Mondeville did at least make up for last weeks' disappointment at not making the EuroLeague Women play-offs by easing their relegation fears with a thrilling 68-66 success against Nantes Reze.
The title race is also hotting up with Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration bouncing back to winning ways courtesy of an 80-64 home victory against Charleville. Geraldine Robert top-scored with 22 points, but the hosts had to come from behind having trailed by double-digits during the first half.
Bourges continue their pursuit of Montpellier in second place, maintaining the pressure on the leaders via a 62-50 victory over visiting Lyon.
DYNAMO MOSCOW LOSE GROUND
There was something of a surprise for EuroCup Women Final hopefuls Dynamo Moscow in the Russian League as their control of second spot was diluted by a narrow 77-74 road loss at lowly Spartak Noginsk, with Maria Merzlyakova pouring in 23 points for the delighted home side.
It means Dynamo Moscow are now one of four clubs who have four losses to their name, although Dynamo Kursk had to work hard to stay in the hunt for second spot after a stunning 25-7 final quarter lifted them to a 69-63 win at Dynamo-GUVD. Ekaterina Lisina and Temeka Johnson combined for 38 points.