fibeurope.com women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen takes a look back on the eighth week of EuroLeague Women action and the first of the new calendar year.
|Leonor Rodriguez and Perfumerias Avenida stunned Galatasaray at home with a 20-point win|
DISH BEST SERVED COLD? IT'S A REVENGE BUFFET
In all my time covering the sport, I can barely remember seeing such a strongly focused theme of revenge on any solitary night in any competition. It was absolutely fascinating to watch the action unfold as a bunch of clubs kept continuously biting off some much-needed payback against their former conquerors from earlier in the campaign. There were wins for Nadezhda Orenburg at Lattes Montpellier, for Wisla Can-Pack at Rivas Ecopolis, for CCC Polkowice at Kibirkstis VICI-Vilnius, Kayseri Kaski spor at Good Angels Kosice, for Perfumerias Avenida at home to Galatasaray odeabank and BK Imos Brno at home to UE Sopron. On reflection, a quite amazing set of (six) results which really has re-ignited the competition immediately after the winter break and set up a fantastic run-in, which promises plenty more twists and turns.
THE VALUE OF VANDERSLOOT
Miguel Mendez is doing a terrific job in Schio. It's always a tough ask for any play-caller to deliver immediately when undertaking his first job outside of his homeland, but it's a case of so far, so good for the Spaniard. And, any time you manage to complete the double over a team like Tango Bourges, it's evidence enough that your team is playing well. I am particularly impressed by the move to bring in Courtney Vandersloot and she showed what a true difference-maker she can potentially be with 18 points on her debut. An established player with class, she was exceptional for HAT-AGOR Uni Gyor and now she could be the player that could give Schio the extra lift they need to fire them to what would be a great achievement of three successive appearances at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight. If they do get there again, they finally need to dig out a couple of wins to show true progression - and Vandersloot could be the kind of player to give them that extra push they would need to achieve this.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
There are so many contenders and for me, it's very much a coin toss between Kayseri Kaski spor winning at Good Angels Kosice and Perfumerias Avenida taking down Galatasaray odeabank in fine style. For different reasons, separating the value of those respective wins has proved impossible and they were equally impressive. The one common factor was some outstanding team defence.
MINI-MONTENEGRO IN PRAGUE AFTER POCEK ARRIVAL
I was excited and really happy to see Ana Pocek (formerly Turcinovic) make a belated debut in the competition. She is a player I found an instant soft spot for, when I saw her make such a fantastic impact as a teenager at EuroBasket Women 2011 with Montenegro. Her career at club level has been very much up and down in the last three years or so and not always down to her, for example the situation she faced at Elitzur Ramla. I hope she can benefit from having a decent run with an elite level team and I could barely think of a better situation than being under the watchful eye of Natalia Hejkova at ZVVZ USK Prague and playing with a couple of her Montenegrin national team-mates. Prague now have three of the main rotation from the Montenegrin team which has played during recent years in Pocek, Jelena Dublejevic and Milka Bjelica. Only Iva Perovanovic seems to be missing! With the added experience of Ilona Burgrova and the reliable production of Kia Vaughn, Prague has one of the most powerful and decidedly feisty frontcourt rotations around. They will certainly not be bullied and look like they now have the hard-nosed personnel required to make some waves and crucially, in the play-offs. Indeed they look to me as though they will never have a better opportunity to reach the Final Eight.
|Alena Hanusová has a steady hand from the foul line, converting 34 in a row for BK IMOS Brno|
BK Imos Brno forward Alena Hanusova made eight of eight from the line this week and that means she has now made a stunning 34 consecutive free-throws in the competition after missing only her very first foul shot of the season.
Good Angels Kosice have been out-rebounded in three games this season at the Steel Arena- and lost them all.
Kayseri Kaski spor equalled the EuroLeague Women season best for blocked shots by coming up with eight of them against Kosice.
The 115 points scored by UMMC Ekaterinburg against HAT-AGRO Uni Gyor was the highest tally by any team this season.
The shooting performance by UMMC was also the best of the campaign as they became the first team to shoot more than 60% in a game from the field with 62.7% (42 of 67). That was helped by the best three-point shooting performance of any team to date, as the Russian powerhouse shot an eye-popping 73.7% (14 of 19) from the perimeter.
Laia Palau equalled the season-high for assists with 13 for ZVVZ USK Prague during the win at WBC Novi Zagreb.
You can follow Paul @basketmedia365 for women's basketball tweets.