|12 December 2013|
| Success follows Laia Palau wherever she goes |
fibeurope.com women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen takes a look back on the sixth week of EuroLeague Women action.
THE VALUE OF PALAU
It could turn out to be the most important signing of the EuroLeague Women pre-season. Yes, the arrival of veteran Spanish playmaker Laia Palau at ZVVZ USK Prague has coincided with their best ever start to a campaign, accumulating a terrific five wins from five games to top Group C. Palau has been a premier performer in this competition for so many years and having won the title with Ros Casares, she has certainly delivered success in her next two steps. Firstly at CCC Polkowice where she was pivotal in helping to achieve an historic first ever place for the Polish team at a Final Eight and now, she is looking for a repeat of that same slice of history with Prague.
She dished up 10 assists against Kibirkstis-VICI Vilnius and with the likes of Eva Viteckova also around to lend her vast experience and highly skilled offerings, Prague are beginning to show they could be the real deal.
It's still early days and they will have to overcome their Achilles heel - aka the play-offs, but fans would be justified in making tentative enquiries about hotel rates in Ekaterinburg next Spring.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
It's very much a coin toss between UE Sopron and Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje, although there was also a particularly notable win for Nadezhda Orenburg in Krakow too. Sparta&K really impressed me in taking a third win on the spin with their home success against Avenida and especially since Sonja Petrovic had a rare off night, meaning the rising stars had to pick up the slack. Both Nika Baric and Ksenia Tikhonenko had two of their best games in the competition and also huge credit must go to Coach Vasin for his work so far this season.
However, by the width of a hair, I am going to give the weekly accolade to UE Sopron for eventually finding the strength to get past Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration. It was a hugely resilient display, because Sopron were down early, were absolutely disastrous from three-point range (1-of-16 at one point in the game) and yet still gutted out a priceless victory - thanks mainly to Tianna Hawkins. A loss probably would have put the first nail in their coffin, but instead, hearty congratulations are due to Igor Polenek and his players. What a difference 2-3 looks compared to what would have been 1-4!
MOMENT OF THE WEEK
She would have preferred to have done it under far happier circumstances, rather than on an indifferent shooting night, but nevertheless, congratulations are still due to Avenida veteran Marta Fernandez. She hit the 1,500 points landmark in the competition during the loss at Sparta&K.
|Week 6 saw the return of Nika Baric's shooting touch|
Jantel Lavender continued her fantastic start to the season for Wisla Can-Pack. The center has played five games and is yet to score less than 17 points, averaging a wonderful season double-double of 22.2 points and 10.2 boards per game.
Nika Baric had missed her previous 12 field-goal attempts heading into the game with Avenida, but made amends with an MVP display.
DeWanna Bonner became the first player this season to grab a superb seven steals in a game and it was a central contribution to Nadezhda winning at Wisla-Can Pack and gaining their second success of the season.
Fenerbahce made it a stunning 17 EuroLeague Women home wins in a row with their victory against Rivas Ecopolis. By any measure, that is astonishing consistency in an elite level club competition.
Kia Vaughn of ZVVZ USK Prague became the seventh player this season to grab six offensive rebounds and join the chasing pack which is trailing Candace Parker who still leads the chart with eight.
It's turning into the season of 1997-born players debuting in the competition. The latest is Marta Hermida, who stepped onto the court for Rivas Ecopolis in Istanbul.
You can follow Paul @basketmedia365 for women's basketball tweets.