FIBA: Howard, Schio playing well heading into EuroLeague Women Week 7

A game between red-hot Italian club Beretta Famila Schio (5-1) and defending EuroLeague Women champion Sopron Basket (4-2) highlights Week 7 of EuroLeague Women group play, which will span three days beginning this Tuesday, Dec. 20. The competition will then have the following week off before returning to action in January 2023.

Schio features several names that should be familiar to WNBA fans — including Marina Mabrey, Amanda Zahui B., Astou Ndour-Fall and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard — making the club an attractive choice to follow during EuroLeague Women play. Schio has won four-straight games and currently sits atop the Group B standings, with Mabrey and Howard forming one of the competition’s better duos on the perimeter.

Sopron, meanwhile, has leaned on its trademark defense to continue being competitive. No team is allowing fewer points per game (60.8) in group play than the Hungarian club, and with Ezi Magbegor at center, Sopron has one of the best defensive players in the world to execute its vision on that end of the court.

Elsewhere in the competition, Spar Girona (3-3) takes on Spanish rival Perfumerias Avenida (5-1) in a matchup that’s affectionately known as “El classic,” while Turkish club Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (4-2) shoots for its fifth consecutive win against Bourges Basket (3-3). Each game will be streamed live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel.


Tuesday, December 19

Olympiacos SFP (0-6) vs. Valencia Basket Club (3-3)

When: 10:30 am ET

Where: Peace and Friendship Stadium, Piraeus

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Megan Gustafson, Kylee Shook (Olympiacos SFP); Lauren Cox, Marie Gülich, Raquel Carrera, Leticia Romero, Alba Torrens (Valencia Basket Club)

Matchup details: Can Olympiacós finally get on the board? Its cumulative point differential of -82 is the worst in EuroLeague Women, and its defensive struggles (82.8 points allowed per game; highest in the competition) have outweighed Gustafson’s excellent individual play (25 points and 9.6 rebounds per game; 62.4 percent shooting). That defense will once again be put to the test against a Valencia club that attempts 19.8 3-pointers per game and has made 39.5 percent of them (second-highest in EuroLeague Women).

Sopron Basket (4-2) vs. Beretta Family Schio (5-1)

When: 12pm ET

Where: Novomatic Arena, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Ezi Magbegor, Yvonne Turner, Jelena Brooks (Sopron Basketball); Rhyne Howard, Marina Mabrey, Amanda Zahui B., Astou Ndour-Fall, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio)

Matchup details: When Brooks (22 points, 10-of-17 shooting in Week 6) is playing well, it’s hard to stop Sopron. Otherwise, the club becomes one-dimensional and must depend entirely on its defense to win games, which probably won’t fly against a team with Schio’s talent. While Howard and Mabrey have been great for Schio thus far, the team’s starting frontcourt of Ndour-Fall (14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game) and Jasmine Keys (10.8 points and eight rebounds per game) has been quietly effective as well. We’ll see if Sopron can manufacture enough offense to win and pull into a tie with Schio in the standings.

Wednesday, December 20

Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (4-2) vs. Tango Bourges Basket (3-3)

When: 11 am ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Natasha Howard, Emma Meesseman, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, Kiah Stokes, Olivia Epoupa (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding); Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket)

Matchup details: Bourges lost in heartbreaking fashion to Polkowice, a game that the French club, given its 10-rebound edge on the glass, probably should have won. It’s a downright brutal swing for Bourges, which now has to take on a Fenerbahçe club that has won four-straight games despite not truly hitting its stride yet. Fenerbahçe ranks second in EuroLeague Women in points per game (80.2), with several players who can take over a game at a moment’s notice; Bourges will, per usual, need to rely on creating havoc on defense (10 steals per game) to give itself a chance.

DVTK HUN-Therm (2-4) vs. Basket Landes (1-5)

When: 12pm ET

Where: DVTK Arena, Miskolc

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Arella Guirantes, Cheridene Green (DVTK HUN-Therm); Marine Fauthoux, Regan Magarity, Celine Dumerc (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: On the surface, this may not seem like a compelling matchup, particularly for Landes, which ranks last in the competition in both points (59.2) and rebounds (30.5) per game. Both clubs are quite young, however (DVTK’s mean age is just 23 years old), and between them they’ve had a handful of impressive performances in group play; incidentally, two came at the expense of Mechelen. This game may not mean much in this season’s standing, but it could be treated as a showcase for some of the world’s up-and-coming international talent, such as Guirantes and Fauhoux.

BC Polkowice (5-1) vs. Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (3-3)

When: 1 pm ET

Where: City Sports Hall, Polkowice

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Stephanie Mavunga, Erica Wheeler, Artemis Spanou, Weronika Gajda (BC Polkowice); Victoria Vivians, Ruthy Hebard, Cyesha Goree, Sydney Wallace (Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd)

Matchup details: Polkowice squeaked by Bourges last week and, despite its 3-point shooting regressing (7-of-25), remains at the top of the Group A standings. It was the first game of the season in which Mavunga (16.8 points and 14.3 rebounds per game) did not record a double-double; she’ll go up against a frontcourt of Hebard and Goree that has mostly flown under the radar but has been very productive (combined 28.7 points and 15.2 rebounds per game). As a team, Polkowice is more effective at moving the basketball (19.3 assists per game), so Szekszárd will need a big game from Vivians (18.3 points per game) to counter that.

Spar Girona (3-3) vs. Perfumerías Avenida (5-1)

When: 1 pm ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Brittney Sykes, Rebekah Gardner, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona); Bridget Carleton, Michaela Onyenwere, Maite Cazorla, Aleksandra Crvendakić (Perfumerias Avenida)

Matchup details: Girona has slipped a bit lately, losing two straight games, and Sykes still hasn’t gotten clearance to suit up since transferring from Sopron. The timing is less than ideal for Girona, considering that Avenida has gotten great production from Carleton since signing her (13.5 points per game, 68.8 percent shooting) and also recently bolstered its frontcourt with Onyenwere (nine points and three rebounds in 12 minutes last week). Momentum is certainly on Avenida’s side entering this one; Girona will need to find a way to manufacture more efficient offense (63.2 points per game) in order to break out of its slump and take this rivalry game.

Virtus Segafredo Bologna (2-4) vs. ZVVZ USK Prague (4-2)

When: 2:30pm ET

Where: PalaDozza, Bologna

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Cheyenne Parker, Iliana Rupert, Cecilia Zandalasini, Kitija Laksa (Virtus Segafredo Bologna); Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Maria Conde, Temi Fagbenle, Valériane Vukosavljević (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: Praha returned to its winning ways last week in dominating fashion, proving that even if Thomas isn’t at her best (five points and 11 rebounds), the club still has more than enough to get it done. Praha’s new-look frontcourt featuring Fagbenle will be tested against the offensive-minded duo of Parker and Rupert, though Bologna is probably more of a threat on the wing at the moment, with Zandalasini and Laksa combining to score 37 points (7-of- 18 on 3-pointers) last week.

Thursday, December 21

Kangoeroes Mechelen (1-5) vs. CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld (3-3)

When: 2:30pm ET

Where: Sporthal De Schalk, Willebroek

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Morgan Bertsch, Lisa Berkani, Ziomara Morrison (Kangoeroes Mechelen); Jonquel Jones, Chelsea Gray, DeWanna Bonner, Tiffany Hayes, Briann January (CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld)

Matchup details: Don’t be fooled by Mersin’s record; it has arguably the most talented starting lineup in the competition, and its stars showed what they can do when things are going well in last week’s win over Girona. Granted, the Turkish club hasn’t exactly played to its potential thus far in the group phase, but this game will serve as a good opportunity for Mersin to establish some momentum. Mechelen is clearly out-gunned in this matchup, particularly on the boards (32.7 rebounds per game to Mersin’s 42.3) and will need an anomalous shooting performance to pull off an upset.

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