|27 November 2012|
By Paul Nilsen
Despite an excellent start to the season in EuroLeague Women Group B, you won't find any complacency from Allie Quigley or her team-mates at Good Angels Kosice, as they prepare for a stern test of their Final Eight credentials at Fenerbahce.
The Slovakian club matches-up with the Turkish powerhouse in Istanbul this week, looking to continue their impressive momentum which has harvested a terrific three wins from their opening four games.
Last weeks' display against the Group B leaders and previously undefeated Famila Schio was the standout performance so far, although according to Quigley, there is no chance of anybody getting too carried away - even if they continue to make good progress.
"I definitely think we are getting a little better each game" agreed the shooter.
"But, we aren't yet where we want to be, even though we're moving in the right direction.
"So far, the season is going okay. We know we could've even won our first game in Orenburg against Nadezhda, and since then, we have just been trying to improve."
She added, "It's taking some time to gel and play well together, but I think we are now improving every week."
Of course Fenerbahce are an opponent expecting to reach the Final Eight once again, and naturally it means Good Angels Kosice are going to have to be at their very best if they want to continue making everyone sit up and take notice of their exploits.
"I expect to face a Fenerbahce team that will be strong at every position" insisted Quigley.
"There's not one single possession or a second in the game when you can relax - because they will punish you immediately.
"I think the game will come down to making defensive stops. If we do this, we'll be okay."
|Allie Quigley: "I definitely think we are getting a little better every game"|
Quigley has returned to EuroLeague Women after a one year absence, having previously played with Pecs 2010 where she led the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game to help the Hungarian club achieve a 5-5 season record and make it to the post-season.
Unsurprisingly, she is relishing being able to tread the boards in the competition once again, and is picking up where she left off, leading Good Angels Kosice in scoring.
"Yes, I've really enjoyed being back in EuroLeague Women" smiled Quigley.
"I love the competition and I think it brings out the best in everyone who plays in it."
Fenerbahce have lots in common with their opponent. They are locked with Good Angels Kosice with an identical 3-1 record; their only loss also came in a close encounter at Nadezhda; they are coming into the encounter on the back of a dominant performance last week; and are also unbeaten in their own domestic league.
Form Guide: In addition to the loss at Nadezhda, Fenerbahce has three wins including last weeks' road trip to Arras as well as home successes against Municipal Targoviste and UE Sopron. The club sits proudly at the top of the Turkish League as the only unbeaten team with six wins from six games, as well as already landing the Presidents' Cup after beating arch rivals Galatasaray. Good Angels Kosice have beaten UE Sopron, Arras and Famila Schio on a three-game winning streak since losing narrowly at Nadezhda on opening night. As usual, they are dominant domestically and sit top of the standings with a 13-0 undefeated record.
|Ivana Matovic has been strong inside the paint for Fenerbahce|
The Hot Hands: Ivana Matovic and Anastasiya Verameyneka have both impressed for Fenerbahce in the paint. The former is averaging 17.3 points and six rebounds per game, and is currently ranked third in the tournament for her field goal shooting percentage. Verameyenka meanwhile has certainly shown why Fener were desperate to bring her to Istanbul, since she leads the competition in blocked shots with 2.5 per game, whilst also picking up over seven boards a night. Also, she is almost as clinical as Matovic under the basket with the fourth best field goal percentage which has helped her score 10.3 points per game. For Kosice, Allie Quigley is pouring in 16.5 points per game and doing a good job from the wing, knocking down outside shots at an impressive 45%. Playmaker Miljana Bojovic continues to evolve on her journey into becoming a top-level player with an impressive 9.8 points, 6.8 assists and 2.8 steals per game, whilst Plenette Pierson had 27 points in her last outing against Schio.
‘X Factors': Statistically, the teams are relatively well matched, although Fenerbahce have a very slight edge in most categories. The biggest differences are that Good Angels Kosice have done a better job on the offensive glass and shown a greater appetite for steals. On the flip-side, the visitors do spill the too much in comparison to the hosts. In terms of a gut feeling about the game, Fener are clear favourites and for the visitors to win, you sense they must ensure Agnieszka Bibrzycka isn't allowed to shoot open threes, as she has found her range again. They must try to slow down Birsel Vardarli in transition, but above anything else, compete inside with Matovic and Verameyenka. That means Pierson and Petra Kulichova must be at their very best defensively if they want to prevail.