|08 November 2013|
|Paul Nilsen hopes that the Wednesday victory of Greta Sniokaite and her Kibirkstis-Vici Vilnius teammates is a sign of things to come for the Lithuanian club|
fibaeurope.com women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen takes a look back on the first week of Euroleague Women action.
A FRUITFUL ROAD FOR QUARTET
I am not sure what odds you would have got for Beretta Famila Schio, Kibirkstis VICI Vilnius, Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration and Rivas Ecopolis all winning difficult road games during the first week, but I suspect that collectively, it would have been phenomenally high. Indeed across the board, there were a total of six successes for visiting teams.
A couple of those clubs had quite understandably been written off in some quarters, notably Kibirkstis. But I hope that these kind of results set the tone for things to come, since unpredictability is an underrated ingredient for any competition.
When Kibirkstis squeezed out their historic first success at CCC Polkowice, I wondered if I was the only one to think back to a couple of seasons ago when former Lithuanian club VICI-Aistes took down four-time champions Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje in their season opener. This week's result was arguably less of a shock, but nevertheless, both were great stories for the curtain raising week to new campaigns.
It does not matter what sport it is, but it's almost as sure as night turning into day that a former coach or player will return to haunt their ex-employers and this was one of the main themes of week one.
Jose Hernandez controversially and surprisingly left Wisla-Can Pack during last season's play-offs and so would have loved going back and beating his former team with Rivas in the most dramatic of circumstances with a buzzer-beater from Swedish ace Frida Eldebrink.
Shameka Christon ghosted back into Orenburg with BLMA and found the hot-hand from three-point range to burn the chances of her former side Nadezhda. Even more impressively was that she hit one memorable shot during crunch time from way, way downtown under severe pressure which proved to be the dagger shot.
Schio center Elodie Godin was at the centre of proceedings in Bourges where she top-scored for the visitors on her old floor. It also got me thinking whether the outcome of EuroBasket Women 2013, might have been different had she not skipped the tournament. Probably not, it was always going to be a coin toss in the final between Spain and Les Bleues I guess.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
On balance, I think Beretta Famila Schio winning at Tango Bourges just pips Kibirkstis-VICI for the accolade. It was a massive win for Miguel Mendez and his team, particularly since they were without the departed Amber Harris who they had envisaged being a focal point under the hoop.
MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Frida Eldebrink nailing her game-winning shot for Rivas Ecopolis in Krakow on the court and the touching scenes in Gyor off the court, in the wake of the tragic events of a couple of months ago - including fans throwing toys onto the floor for the seriously injured and now recouperating Natasa Kovacevic.
A WELCOME RETURN
|Nevriye Yilmaz, seen here playing for Turkey, made a welcome return to EuroLeague Women this week, playing for Galatasaray-odeabank|
It was fantastic to see Nevriye Yilmaz back in action in the competition. The Turkish national team leader returned to EuroLeague Women with a classy double-double for Galatasaray odeabank as they rolled over Perfumerias Avenida. It seemed astonishing to think that the last time Yilmaz played, it was in the same city around 18 months ago at the Final Eight in Istanbul. She was wearing the vest of bitter rivals Fenerbahce back then and therefore quite bizarrely, it was actually a belated but memorable EuroLeague Women debut for Galatasaray this week from the forward.
Tango Bourges only have themselves to blame for losing their opener having shot an eye-watering 54.2% from the free-throw line. 11 missed free-throws from 24 attempts combined with 18.2% from three-point range told a story.
UE Sopron overturned a significant 16-point deficit at home to BK Imos Brno to dig out a confidence-boosting victory.
Good Angels Kosice may have claimed a success at Kayseri Kaski spor but were a stone cold 0-of-10 from long-range. Life would have been much more comfortable had they converted even a couple of those looks.
Kosice forward Plenette Pierson fired 33 points in the win and that was her highest ever EuroLeague Women tally.
Isil Alben became the first player to dish up double-digits in assists this week with a sparkling 10 for Galatasaray odeabank against Perfumerias Avenida.
Reigning champiosn UMMC Ekaterinburg became the first club this season to share 20 assists as a team.
ROLLING ONTO THE RADAR
Worthy of a place in the number crunching section too, congratulations are in order for Czech Republic frontcourt prospect Alena Hanusova. She recorded a career-high EuroLeague Women score of 27 points to shatter her previous personal best. Whilst not enough to help BK Imos Brno take victory, it showed that the 22-year-old can possibly impose herself more and possibly shift her game up a gear - something that will delight Czech Republic fans and national team head coach Lubor Blazek.
In the same game, 18-year-old Serbian center Dragana Stankovic had a winning and encouraging start to her Euroleague Women career and played some 18 minutes to underline how much of a factor she could be for her new club.
You can follow Paul @basketmedia365 for women's basketball tweets.