|23 January 2014|
|Céline Dumerc has now levelled with Slovak Iveta Bielikova in 4th spot in the All-Time Tournament assists leaders|
fibeurope.com women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen takes a look back on the ninth week of EuroLeague Women action.
TANGO BOURGES DIG WAY DEEP
Beating a classy and champion team with the depth of UMMC Ekaterinburg at any time is a terrific accomplishment. The manner and backdrop surrounding the circumstances which Tango Bourges managed the feat this week was truly impressive. Staring down the barrel of a potential 2-5 start to the season, the French side are now 3-4 after their fantastic victory. It was of course one which was achieved under extreme pressure, not only because of their record in the group, but because they were edged out in their previous game during overtime at Beretta Famila Schio. I will be absolutely honest, when I saw that UMMC had come back to force the extra five minutes, I thought they would maintain their perfect record and the Bourges ship had already sailed. However, Valerie Garnier and her team dug incredibly deep both physically and particularly mentally, to get the job done.
It gives hope to the rest of the competition, although the warning shot is that UMMC lost to Avenida last year, but it was merely the most minor of blips en-route to the top of the podium. Nevertheless, it really does throw out some issues in Group A and it could be that whoever finishes in the last spot for the play-offs provides a massive challenge for one of the higher ranking teams who draw them. Any one of Bourges, Schio, Kayseri or Good Angels Kosice could finish in the last spot and will be seriously tough in the post-season, as well as being scant reward for those who excel in the other groups.
There was also a special moment for Celine Dumerc by the way, which I am not sure anybody was aware of. It was a perfect time or her to get the seven assists she needed to move to 668 and level with Slovak Iveta Bielikova in fourth place for the All-Time assists leaders. That inevitably means a top-three place next week she steps out onto the floor - something I am sure the club would be keen to mark in some way.
LONG OVERDUE CREDIT FOR FENERBAHCE
|Fenerbahce head coach Roberto Iniguez now holds the reins of the only undefeated team in the competition |
So there it is. By late on Wednesday night, there was only one undefeated team still standing in EuroLeague Women and that is Fenerbahce. I haven't given the Turkish juggernauts enough credit this season, perhaps because it is almost expected they win every game, just like their fellow finalists from last year, UMMC. However, to win seven straight games in such a demanding and gruelling competition is a great record and a testament to the players and head coach Roberto Iniguez. They look a rock solid prospect at the moment - even if it hasn't all been plain sailing domestically with their early season wobble and a Cup Final loss. You wouldn't back against them competing in the Final again and especially since they have again demonstrated a consistent ability to win tight games. Whether they should be more ruthless and put some teams to bed more convincingly is a valid argument, but at 7-0, it won't worry anybody connected with the Istanbul side.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
There were two standout results for me. Firstly, the simply fabulous and thrilling victory of Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje at ZVVZ USK Prague, which was another measurement of the great season they are having. It was also impressive since they had been routed domestically by Nadezhda last weekend and picked themselves up with a superb display and result. It showed great heart from a young team who continue to shine and rise above the expectations of most. The additional bonus was the nice 11 point cameo from Serbian center Tijana Ajdukovic on her debut in the competition, underlining it may be another shrewd piece of recruitment. However, I simply can't overlook Tango Bourges for their efforts against UMMC and it is the French side who get the nod from me this week.
|Glory Johnson has been a revelation to the Nadezhda Orenburg EuroLeague Women lineup|
After four successive home defeats in the competition, including a play-off defeat to Bourges last year, Wisla Can-Pack finally gave the fans in Krakow something to cheer about.
Much of that was due to some excellent ball pressure and Wisla grabbed the most steals in a game by any club with a new chart-topping tally of 19.
Cappie Pondexter broke through the 1,500 points barrier in the competition against UE Sopron.
Glory Johnson never participated in EuroLeague Women prior to the arrival of George Dikeoulakos at Nadezhda Orenburg. But, player, coach and club have never looked back since she was given her opportunity and she is proving a real handful for opponents - as evidenced by a competition-high of 12 drawn fouls against Rivas Ecopolis.
Congratulations to a resurgent CCC Polkowice outfit and especially Agnieszka Majewska who moved into seventh place on the All-Time list for blocked shots in the tournament after swatting three more against Avenida to take her tally to 116.
You can follow Paul @basketmedia365 for women's basketball tweets.