Paul Nilsen is a freelance basketball journalist writing for various websites and publications across Europe.
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Pole Dancing In Salamanca
My reaction of complete surprise when I saw CCC Polkowice triumph on the road at Perfumerias Avenida probably underlined just how huge this result was. In fact, I think I would have to rank this victory as one of the most eye-opening and biggest shocks of the season. In terms of an accomplishment, it is definitely in the top three taking into account the quality of the opposition, it wasn't at home and also their opponent were coming off the back of a loss and expected to react. Only instead of feeling a backlash, CCC Polkowice and their fans were left dancing for joy on the court when the final buzzer sounded.
|Evanthia Maltsi confirmed her good form of the last weeks by exploding for 28 points in CCC Polkowice's suprise win over Perfumerias Avenida|
I think most fans of Women's Basketball generally would join me in saying just how magnificent it was to see a player like Evina Maltsi produce one of those special performances once again as they have been all too infrequent in the last couple of season for one reason or another. But, she is a marvellous player who has real class and her 28 point haul along with some great supporting performances from Sharnee Zoll, Iva Perovanovic and Aga Majewska the historical first ever road win in EuroLeague Women proved to be a night to remember.
As for Perfumerias Avenida, sometimes losses can be a little like standing at a bus stop. You wait for what like seems an eternity for just one and then two come in quick succession. This is exactly what happened in Salamanca when Perfumerias Avenida lost their winning streak against Fenerbahce and then were left absolutely stunned by CCC Polkowic as they suffered another defeat.
Still, the impact of back to back losses for Coach Mondelo and his players is hardly fatal and I feel they may actually welcome being written off by many people after what has happened in recent days. Afterall, last season they prevailed as underdogs and finished as champions. I still have them very much in the mould of Sparta&K Moscow Region Vidnoje who are a very good team and while not spoken about in quite the same breath as Ekat or Ros Casares for example, they are still capable of getting a podium finish.
Perfumerias Avenida seem to be concerned at the lack of an outside shooter which is a common theme in EuroLeague Women this season, their rivals Ros also perhaps suffering from the same thing. I anticipate a "Where did all the game changing outside shooters go?"
Well, one of them plays with CCC Polkowice, that's for sure.
Bravo For Group B
It's official. After wins for CCC Polkowice, Uniqa Euroleasing Sopron and a loss for Beretta Famila Schio this week, Group B is now absolutely wide open with no fewer than six teams all jostling for spots in the next round and that means the possibility of someone like a Nadezhda or Schio being potentially seriously disappointed by not reaching the post-season - especially if the likes of CCC Polkowice grab a couple more victories.
Only former French champions Tarbes Gespe Bigorre are not in the race. They are still without a win after seven attempts and that is tough to take, especially with Nadezhda on the road next up, followed by Perfumerias Avenida and Fenerbahce. But interestingly, Tarbes could have the biggest role to play in deciding the fate of many teams down the stretch of this first phase if they can produce at least one win before their involvement expires. It's a potential banana skin of epic proportions for someone out there.
Turkish Trio Bounce Back For Gala
It's been a terrible time recently for Galatasaray and especially their home grown players who have taken the brunt of the criticism for the home court blowout at the hands of Ros Casares and losing the all-important derby game with Fenerbahce SK. The social messaging world has been filled with fans expressing doubts over whether the Turkish players at the club are good enough. So, I was really pleased to see that after scoring nothing at home to Ros, it was the Turkish players who bounced back in style during the game in Kaunas as Isil Alben, Bahar Caglar and Saziye Ivegin combined for 34 points. Of course people will say there is a difference in terms of the quality of the opposition but the homegrown players needed a confidence boost and I will be watching their contribution at home to USK Prague next week with just as much interest and as far as I am concerned, this is a huge game for this trio.
PAULBALL WEEK EIGHT PICKS
Performance Of The Week - While Gospic Croatia claimed a superb 15 point win against in-form Rivas Ecopolis to keep their feint hopes alive and complete an impressive double over the Madrid club, this still doesnt match CCC Polkowice winning on the road at the home of the defending champions!
|Valuable veteran leadership and more than solid play-making for USK Prague: Ticha Penicheiro|
Cameo Of The Week - It was a little ugly at times but USK Prague had to grind out yet another close win and I thought that the contribution of Ticha Penicheiro against Bourges was vital. She scored 7 points, came up with 5 priceless steals and dished up 4 assists in a nice cameo performance. Those steals in particular made all the difference in such a tight and hard fought contest.
Rising Star Watch - Congratulations to Miriame Foraste who scored her first basket in EuroLeague Women this week when she stepped out for Ros Casares. Ayse Cora, Fanni Szabo and Ksenia Tikhonenko all scored again in wins for Galatasaray, Sopron and Sparta&K Moscow Region Vidnoje respectively. While now is also the perfect time to sincerely apologise to Nika Baric of Sparta&K for forgetting to mention her first EuroLeague Women double digit haul during Week 7 when she went 5 of 6 from the field against Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration.
Stats Don't Lie - Candice Dupree had an unbelievable shooting night in Moscow against Frisco Brno as she produced the most efficient performance in the competition this season by scoring a mind-boggling 12 of 13! Ros Casares claimed a season high 21 steals in the victory over Uni Seat Gyor, smashing the next best record by six. Not surprisingly, the Hungarian club now top the turnover chart with a season high and nightmare total of 27. Finally Elena Danilochkina and Seimone Augustus are locked at the top of the three-point shooting chart since they are both averaging an impressive 58.3% from downtown.