FIBA: Arella Guirantes standing out early in EuroLeague Women

Two weeks into the group play phase of the 2022-23 EuroLeague Women season, we’ve already had plenty of dramatic moments. Arella Guirantes’ buzzer-beating, left-handed scoop shot that lifted DVTK-Hun-Therm (1-1) past Kangoeroes Mechelen (0-2) was among the top plays of Week 2, and, depending on how the rest of group play shakes out, it could be one of the season’s defining moments.

Then you have the double-overtime slugfest between Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (0-2) and Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (1-1) that featured a combined 204 points, with Szekszárd’s Cyesha Goree (30 points) and Victoria Vivians (25 points) going toe -to-toe with Fenerbahçe’s Natasha Howard and Kayla McBride (28 points apiece) in what turned out to be a massive upset. Szekszárd joined DVTK as a club earning its first-ever victory in EuroLeague Women play.

Of course, for each exhilarating high, there’s also a disappointing low. Both Fenerbahçe and CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (0-2) were expected to compete for this season’s EuroLeague Women championship, but still find themselves winless entering Week 3 of the competition. While the overall talent level on the two clubs will keep them in contention, watching them try to bounce back from adversity will, at the very least, add to the competition’s storylines later in group play.

You can catch Guirantes, Vivians, Howard, McBride, and dozens of other stars in live action and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. Let’s preview the competition’s schedule for Week 3.

Wednesday November 9

Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (0-2) vs. Olympiacos SFP (0-2)

When: 11 am ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Natasha Howard, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding); Megan Gustafson, Kylee Shook (Olympiacos SFP)

Matchup details: Fenerbahçe drops to a disappointing 0-2 after falling to Szekszárd in Week 2, a game in which Iagupova, its best perimeter shot creator, did not suit up. Until the Turkish club can play its entire roster (Breanna Stewart, Emma Meesseman and Satou Sabally have yet to join the team), it will have to depend more heavily on McBride and Howard (28 points apiece in Week 2), as well as play better defensively than it did against Szekszard. That may be a challenge against Olympiacos, which, despite an 0-2 record of its own, fields the competition’s leading scorer in Gustafson (27.5 points per game).

Sopron Basket (2-0) vs. DVTK-Hun-Therm (1-1)

When: 12pm ET

Where: Novomatic Arena, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Brittney Sykes, Ezi Magbegor (Sopron Basketball); Arella Guirantes (DVTK-Hun-Therm)

Matchup details: Sopron was unable to retain last season’s Final Four MVP in Gabby Williams and its offseason agreement with Courtney Vandersloot fell through, but the defending EuroLeague champions are off to strong start regardless. Sykes, in particular, has been showing her playmaking chops, leading the competition in assists per game (9.5). The individual matchup between Sykes and Guirantes will be one to watch closely, especially after the latter’s heroics in Week 2, though DVTK will need more than its star import if it’s going to crack Sopron’s league-best defense (56 points allowed per game).

BC Polkowice (2-0) vs. Virtus SegafredoBologna (0-2)

When: 1 pm ET

Where: City Sports Hall, Polkowice

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Stephanie Mavunga, Yvonne Turner (BC Polkowice); Cheyenne Parker, Cecilia Zandalasini, Iliana Rupert, Kitija Laksa (Virtus Segafredo Bologna)

Matchup details: Polkowice has to qualify as one of the biggest positive surprises of the early EuroLeague Women season, at least if FIBA’s preseason power rankings (ranked No. 14 of 16 teams) are to be believed. The Polish club, which is currently leading EuroLeague Women in rebounding (52 per game) now gets a chance to improve to 3-0, facing a struggling Bologna team that will need more from Parker and Laksa (11 points combined in Week 2) if it’s going to get into the win column.

Beretta Famila Schio (1-1) vs. Perfumerías Avenida (2-0)

When: 1:30pm

Where: Palazzetto Livio Romare, Schio

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Rhyne Howard, Marina Mabrey, Amanda Zahui B., Astou Ndour-Fall, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio); Erica McCall, Maite Cazorla (Perfumerías Avenida)

Matchup details: No returning EuroLeague Women team lost more from last season than Avenida — Kahleah Copper, Katie Lou Samuelson, Karlie Samuelson and Bella Alarie combined to average nearly 50 points per game in 2021-22 — but the Spanish club has still been one of the better teams thus far in 2022-23. Its cumulative point differential of +41 is the second-highest in the competition through two games. Schio may have more talent on paper, but has had trouble defending thus far, allowing 82 and 83 points, respectively, in its first two games.

Basket Landes (0-2) vs. CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld (0-2)

When: 1:30pm ET

Where: Espace François-Mitterrand, Mont-de-Marsan

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Evelyn Akhator, Regan Magarity, Celine Dumerc, Marine Fauthoux (Basket Landes); Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner, Tiffany Hayes, Temi Fagbenle, Briann January (CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld)

Matchup details: Mersin welcomed Jones and Bonner to its lineup last week, but managed just 50 points (four in the fourth quarter) against Sopron in another disappointing loss. The Group B favorite will now face a golden opportunity for its first win against a Landes team going through similar struggles; Landes has averaged 55 points per game through Week 2 of the competition, and it wouldn’t be unfair to say that its overall offensive ceiling isn’t quite as high as Mersin’s.

Tango Bourges Basket (2-0) vs. ZVVZ USK Prague (2-0)

When: 2 pm ET

Where: Palais des Sports du Prado, Bourges

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket); Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Maria Conde (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: While Thomas (25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists) continues to roll through EuroLeague competition, it was Valeriane Vukosavljevic who stepped up last week for Praha, scoring 33 points in a full 40 minutes of action against Valencia. Bourges, meanwhile, pulled out another close victory in Week 2 against Bologna, led by Alexander (10 points and 12 rebounds). The French club will need to shoot better (37.5 percent in Week 2), however, if it’s going to hang with the explosive Praha offense.

Valencia Basket Club (1-1) vs. Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (1-1)

When: 2 pm ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Fuente de San Luis, Valencia

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Lauren Cox, Marie Gülich (Valencia Basket Club); Victoria Vivians, Ruthy Hebard (Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd)

Matchup details: Szekszárd’s overtime upset of Fenerbahçe has to qualify as one of the most entertaining games of the EuroLeague Women season thus far, especially because it was the club’s first-ever victory in the competition (0-14 last season). The 103 points Szekszárd scored was the first triple-digit scoring effort by a EuroLeague team this season. It’s unlikely, of course, that Szekszárd will repeat that kind of offensive performance, though Valencia has been struggling in many areas thus far, especially rebounding (31.5 per game). Can Szekszárd build on its newfound momentum?

Thursday, November 10

Kangoeroes Mechelen (0-2) vs. Spar Girona (2-0)

When: 2:30pm ET

Where: Sporthal De Schalk, Willebroek

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streams

Notable players: Morgan Bertsch (Kangoeroes Basketball); Rebekah Gardner, Crystal Bradford, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona)

Matchup details: Girona is coming off an impressive 20-point victory over Schio and is now faced with an opportunity to assert itself in Group B. Mechelen is, safe to say, off to a rough start, having been on the wrong end of both a blowout ( Praha in Week 1) and a buzzer-beater (DVTK in Week 2), and the Belgian club doesn’t match up particularly well against Girona, either. Girona has been by far the better team on the glass to this point (43 rebounds per game to Mechelen’s 30), though Mechelen has actually shot the ball at a more efficient clip (41.5 percent to Girona’s 38.4 percent). Both areas will surely be points of emphasis in Thursday’s lone EuroLeague Women game.

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