Paul Nilsen is a freelance basketball journalist writing for various websites and publications across Europe.
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It's been a sad week for fans of women's basketball after news broke that the biggest stars around could miss what will be a historic first ever Final Eight.
Yes, there was a most definite collective gasp from the EuroLeague Women family when it was revealed the stellar talented Alba Torrens was en-route to hospital in Gdynia with a suspected ACL injury which could end her season prematurely.
I am sure I was not alone in experiencing crushing disappointment that the chances of seeing Torrens play in March were suddenly left hanging by a thread. Even more so since the Spanish sensation is one of the kingpins for Final Eight hopefuls and hosts Galatsasaray Medical Park.
Even supporters of Fenerbahce should feel sad that if, as expected she is ruled out or at least down as doubtful, they may not get to see her on the floor since if I was a fan of Fener, I would want to beat my arch rivals when they had a full team so no excuses were fired back by Galatasaray fans!
Of course sustaining injuries are a daily hazard of any baller and it's just a shame when they happen and all we can do is wish Alba a speedy and full recovery whatever damage has been done.
Today is D-Day in Istanbul for her and I am just hoping that news breaks in coming hours which confirms the injury is not actually as bad as first feared.
I have my fingers and everything else I can think of, very much crossed!
|Ann Wauters now coralled 1,300 rebounds in her long EuroLeague Women career|
A True Legend Passes A Monumental Landmark
Moving from a star of the tournament in Torrens to a bona-fide legend of the women's game in the form of Ann Wauters, there was a lovely landmark moment during Week 12.
The Ros Casares center grabbed the rebounds she needed in the hard fought win against Bourges Basket to become only the second player in the history of EuroLeague Women to slip past the almost incomprehensible 1,300 rebounds landmark.
Congratulations are due to her and I'm sure everyone associated with EuroLeague Women will be joining me in echoing this for going past another significant and terrific landmark.
Elsewhere and still related to landmark moments associated with hard work on the glass, there is probably some competitive but good natured fun taking place in the Fenerbahce locker room right since twin towers Ivana Matovic and Nevriye Yilmaz (vote for her as Player of the Year here) both found themselves locked on 598 rebounds after the home victory over Tarbes.
This means they head into the next game battling it out to become the eighteenth player in the history of the competition to move to the magical 600 figure. But watch out, because Emmeline Ndongue of Bourges Basket only needs four rebounds to grab that accolade first and beat the Fener duo.
A View On Vieru
While my gut reaction to watching Natalia Vieru return to Russia and post a tremendous performance in the paint was to pen something about her showcasing her capabilities to Pokey Chatman and Co, I suspect nobody in Moscow doubts the talent she has.
Perhaps her excellent 14 point an 13 rebound double-double performance was more about showing what she can do if given serious minutes rather than being buried on a deep bench and competing with more experienced performers clearly ahead of her in the queue.
Certainly I had been a little worried Vieru might be another big talent who was in danger of allowing time to ebb away in her career and perhpas ever realising her obvious potential.
Of course the hosts dug out another tough victory and are really beginning to impress me with their recent run of form (their poor display in Krakow aside) and I suspect every Russian had another reason to smile when they left the gym.
For while winning was important, the added bonus of seeing Vieru post a mature and powerful performance is great for the Russian national team since the player could just catapult herself back into contention for minutes having excelled against Irina Osipova and Marina Kuzina. It was a display which could yet give Boris Sokolovsky further food for thought.
Interestingly, the one aspect which is perhaps of concern to Coach Chatman is how her centers were overpowered by Vieru. However, even if Sparta&K had the 22 year old back on board, would she be given the minutes needed for her to continue evolving and making an impact?
It also threw up the old chestnut about whether players are better sat on talented and deep teams or better served moving or being loaned to so-called ‘lesser' teams to continue their progression.
One thing is for sure, Vieru is flourishing in Kosice.
Polish Pride One The Line
The pursuit of a Final Eight place in EuroLeague Women and also silverware in the Polish league looks set to be a battle royale between Wisla Can-Pack and CCC Polkowice this season. Even for neutrals, it looks set to be hugely exciting as both teams battle for supremacy and to be the number one team in Poland this year.
Having beaten Wisla-Can Pack in the league recently, having signed ‘Biba' and with their senior players seemingly raising their game since her arrival thus helping book a EuroLeague Women play-off spot, it looked like the momentum might be swinging towards Polkowice - especially after a double digit loss for Wisla in Taranto last night.
So, it's not surprising the Krakow club are rumoured to be lining up re-enforcements with veteran Taj McWilliams apparently the latest name in the frame to be potentially added to the roster.
PAULBALL WEEK 12 PICKS
Performance Of The Week: I thought the performance of CB Taranto in the televised game against Wisla Can-Pack was fantastic. They brought so much energy to the floor and that helped them rack up their best result of the season with an 81-69 success. The only downer was that it is still likely to be the type of display which has been sadly lacking for most of the season and ultimately not enough to avoid elimination from the play-off race. But, whatever happens, it was mightily impressive in so many ways with Kia Vaughn absolutely sensational for her outrageously good double-double while I loved the display of Michelle Greco too.
The Crucial Cameo: I would go so far as to say Megan Mahoney produced not only the must crucial cameo of Week 12 but also the most impressive cameo of the season when she came off the bench for Cras Basket Taranto. She claimed 12 points in 17 minutes from 4 of 5 floor shooting and was the spark for taking the game away from Wisla.
|Kourtney Treffers finally tasted court action for Rivas Ecopolis in the EuroLeague Women|
Agglomeration. The 21 year old wasn't shy in putting up shots after taking nine attempts in her short window of opportunity and she is bang in the middle of the rising star radar right now. Santa Okockyte recorded six points, five assists and three steals for VICI-Aistes Kaunas in Gyor while after a long wait, there was joy for Kourtney Treffers as the Dutch prospect finally tasted EuroLeague Women court time and even grabbed a basket for Rivas Ecopolis in Brno.
Stats don't lie - Rivas pulled down a mammoth 61 rebounds in their rout of Frisco Brno and this was the most boards recorded in any game this season. Unbeaten Fenerbahce moved into double digits in Group C after racking up a tenth win of the campaign by defeating Tarbes Gespe Bigorre and it means they have now won their last six games against French opposition. Indeed it's almost four years since they last lost to a French team in EuroLeague Women when they went down against Bourges. Kia Vaughn posted one of the top five shooting displays of the season after making 11 of her 10 shots for Cras Basket Taranto. Iva Ciglar of Uni Seat Gyor racked up the joint highest score in the competition this season after pouring in 32 points against VICI Aistes Kaunas to complete a super double-double off the back of dishing up ten assists, bringing home the weekly MVP award.