|04 October 2011|
Basketball In Europe
The Czech Excelsior ZBL campaign is now four weeks old and USK Prague could not have asked for a better beginning.
They won for the fourth consecutive game on Sunday by prevailing in a battle of unbeatens over Frisco Brno, 86-82.
Delisha Milton-Jones had 23 points and Anna Montanana 20 for Prague.
Brno fans have every reason to be excited about their season, however, because they appear to have a real star in their squad.
Young Sweden international Farhiya Abdi, 19, not only lived up to her pre-season hype on Sunday but surpassed it, pouring in a game-high 29 points and corralling 17 rebounds in the defeat.
The Brno club has had some Swedish talent the past couple of years with Frida Eldebrink (now Prague) and Louice Halvarsson in last season's team.
Wisla Ruin Fort's Opener
The new season is underway in Poland's top flight and Wisla Can-Pack Krakow have enjoyed a winning start with a 67-54 triumph over Lotos Gdynia.
In a battle of sides that will play in the EuroLeague Women, Krakow spoiled the coaching debut of Gydnia boss Javier Fort with Ewelina Kobryn scoring 19 points for the winners.
"We were focused in the first half," said Fort, who has joined Gdynia after a successful spell with Rivas Ecopolis in Spain's Liga Femenina and the EuroLeague Women.
"But in the second half, we forgot about everything we did during the preparation period."
Indeed, Gdynia began well against the defending champions and led 35-33 at half-time but Krakow, whose coach is Fort's Spanish compatriot Jose Ignacio Hernandez, outscored their opponents 17-6 in the third quarter and stayed on top the rest of the way.
"Now we have to start thinking about Wednesday's game because we'll face a team that has a lot of good players," Fort said of the clash with LKS Lodz.
"We have to play as well as we can to win and more importantly, we need our fans to support us."
As for Wisla, Kobryn only just joined the team after playing in the WNBA where she was on the books of Seattle.
"It was only the first game," Hernandez said.
"We will play twenty-five more games in the regular season.
"Now we are waiting for the arrival of Erin Phillips so the whole team can work together."
Phillips just wrapped up her WNBA campaign with the Indiana Fever.
Perovanovic Fit And Playing
There was a cruel sight at the EuroBasket Women than on July 2, when Montenegro's outstanding Iva Perovanovic was helped off the floor and then stretchered out of the Lodz Arena in Poland with a knee injury at the end of her team's defeat to Croatia in the battle for fifth place.
The 1.88m center had been sensational, finishing as the EuroBasket's leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, but ended up leaving the tournament with Montenegro having failed to keep their Olympic hopes alive, and a knee injury.
Perovanovic has fortunately recovered and was on the court on Sunday for CCC Polkowice as they launched their Polish league campaign with a 72-63 victory at LKS Lodz.
The 28-year-old had 14 points.
Polkowice had better not be overlooked in the EuroLeague Women this season.
They also have EuroBasket Women 2009 MVP Evina Maltsi and 2008 FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year, Gintare Petronyte of Lithuania.
Maltsi had 13 points and Petronyte 10 in Polkowice's victory.
Petronyte, a 1.96m center, is still only 22.
She showed plenty of signs at the EuroBasket in Poland while playing for Lithuania that she is on track to become a top center in Europe.
The three teams in France taking part in the EuroLeague Women have opened their domestic campaigns with a combined five wins in six games.
Bourges, who are without center Emmeline Ndongue while she recovers from an Achilles tendon injury suffered at the EuroBasket Women while playing for France and with new coach Valérie Garnier, have beaten Nice (60-48) and Villenueve (79-60), while fellow EuroLeague Women outfit Lattes Montpellier have beaten Hainaut Basket (73-60) and Aix-en-Provence (76-55).
Tarbes, who are back in the EuroLeague Women, started with a 78-65 triumph over Lyon but slipped to a 74-70 home defeat to Mondeville on Sunday.
Bourges center Ndongue, meanwhile, was not expected back before February, or January at the earliest, following her operation.
However, she said to Basketball World News on Sunday her recovery is going well and could even be ahead of schedule.
Vincent At ASVEL
The man Garnier has replaced at Bourges, Pierre Vincent, launched a new era in his career last week when coaching ASVEL Basket in the Euroleague Qualifying Rounds.
Vincent, who remains the France women national team coach and will be at next year's Olympics in London, steered ASVEL to an 80-72 victory over BCM Gravelines in the Euroleague Qualifying Round but in a do-or-die next game against Galatasaray on Saturday, his side fell 93-83.
Galatasaray ended up beating Lietuvos Rytas 71-63 to reach the Euroleague while in the other Qualifying Round group that was hosted by Spirou Charleroi, Belgians Spirou beat Ukrainians Donetsk, ALBA Berlin and CEZ Nymburk to reach the regular season.
Avenida's Erika Is Americas MVP
Erika de Souza is a force no matter what jersey she wears.
This past week, she played for Brazil and led them to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship for Women.
It continued what has been a near perfect 2011 for Erika.
She averaged 12.6 points and 7.7 rebounds for Avenida last season and on April 10 celebrated a EuroLeague Women title with the Salamanca team in Ekaterinburg.
Erika also celebrated a Liga Femenina title.
The Salamanca fans will have to wait a while before she comes back to Spain because instead of flying to Madrid, she has returned to the United States to link up with the Atlanta Dream.
Erika is Atlanta's starting center but needed by Brazil in their bid to qualify for the Olympics, she left the team in the U.S. in the play-offs and help the Brazilians capture the FIBA Americas Championship gold medal in Colombia.
She will now be with the Dream this week as they try to hit back from a 1-0 deficit to the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals.