|15 November 2013|
|Paul Nilsen has been impressed to date by Candace Parker|
fibeurope.com women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen takes a look back on the second week of EuroLeague Women action.
WINNING UGLY MATTERS
It's the hallmark of any true champion team that even when they are at their worst, they are sometimes (without necessarily knowing it) at their best. The ability to squeeze out a win even if quite hideously ugly, as was the case for UMMC this week against Tango Bourges, truly highlights the heart of champions. As badly as UMMC played against a valiant and hard-nosed Bourges team without Australia center Marianna Tolo, there was not a moment when I did not expect UMMC to make their move and prevail. It was more a case of when - not if. That is what champions teams are all about. Ironically, actually losing the game might have jolted UMMC and sharpened their focus, but winning ugly was the best of both worlds. They got the result, but their inadequacies were laid bare and they will now be working overtime to improve a few areas of their game which have not yet clicked into gear.
A BREATHTAKING YEAR FOR PARKER
I have went on record previously as stating that whilst an admirer of Candace Parker, I still wanted to see her deliver in the biggest moments in the biggest games. Cast your minds back to 12 months ago, when the initial talk was of a dream backcourt with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. Instead, Parker got the nod for the second non-European slot at UMMC and it seems to have given her the confidence and green light to make that push and take her actual game to the same stellar level as her status and profile.
She was sensational last season and deservedly took the MVP accolade at the Final Eight. Now, it is like the off-season never happened since she has not missed a beat. Whilst everyone else around her was labouring against Bourges, she was gliding to the hoop as usual and snaffling up rebounds for fun to finish with an outstanding 16 points and 20 rebounds. I wonder if Parker has silenced any last remaining hard core doubters and as opposed to this time last year, where does she now rank in most people's list of the best women's players in the world?
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
| Queralt Casas and Rivas Ecopolis are turning heads with their scintilating start to the season|
Nadezhda Orenburg may be at a low ebb and in the middle of a mini-slump right now, but nevertheless, Rivas Ecopolis were hugely impressive in their 90-71 demolition of their Russian visitors. The fact that the win was achieved without the heartbeat of their team in Swedish guard Frida Eldebrink, should really make people sit up and take notice. Their ball movement was a joy to watch and it was a real team effort in the absence of their main offensive weapon.
MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Diana Taurasi making a belated return to the competition after missing the first week of action. She did not have a colossal impact for the most part, but you can never keep a class-act like her down and she was the pivotal figure in the late show which carried UMMC to the win. The moment came when she made a big triple to tie the game up at the start of crunch time and give her team the springboard they needed to finish the job in the closing moments.
WINNING AND LOSING RUNS SNAPPED
There were a couple of noticeable landmark results this week and not least, the super 15-game unbeaten home run of Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje coming to an end. One of the great EuroLeague Women clubs, a re-moulded and young Sparta&K lost to a dangerous-looking ZVVZ USK Prague side. Elsewhere, Wisla Can-Pack finally overcame a long-standing jinx by ending their inability to win at BK Imos Brno - although did their level best to keep the unwanted run going by almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. You could just about hear the sigh of relief from Wisla coach Stefan Svitek, who did not want a repeat of his week one heartache when he lost to Rivas on the buzzer.
LANDMARK WEEK FOR SEVERAL STARS
Several high-profile players recorded their highest-ever scores in the competition, including Laura Nicholls who scored 23 points for Rivas Ecopolis and Jantel Lavender who fired 34 points for Wisla Can-Pack - the highest score of the new campaign so far.
Shavonte Zellous was also in dazzling form, sinking a stunning 32 points for Galatsaray odeabank, producing the best overall shooting performance to date with a brilliant 85.7%.
Veteran Italian legend Laura Macchi also racked up a career-high 31 points for Beretta Famila Schio in the win against Kayseri Kaski spor.
|Miljana Bojovic had a season-best 12 assists on Wednesday |
As previously mentioned, UMMC were ugly in victory and not helped by a woeful 9-of-20 from the free-throw line, whilst Tango Bourges were a similarly disappointing 2-of-18 from three-point range.
Another club struggling with their perimeter game are Good Angels Kosice, even if it has not stopped them moving to 2-0. They went almost 70 minutes into the new season and were 0-of-19 for the new campaign before A'dia Mathies broke their monster downtown drought against Uni Gyor.
In the same game, Miljana Bojovic dished up a competition-high 12 assists for Good Angels Kosice.
Beretta Famila Schio made 24-of-25 from the free-throw line to defeat Kayseri Kaski spor - the best of the season so far.
Wisla Can-Pack almost threw their victory away at Brno with 22 turnovers - the worst number for any team so far.
You can follow Paul @basketmedia365 for women's basketball tweets.