Thomas rated as best signing of 2018 and Bourges a real deal for Final Four headline talking points
MUNICH (EuroLeague Women) - The fifth week of the EuroLeague Women Regular Season may have just thrown up more questions than answers.
Here are the main talking points from Week 5 – according to our women's basketball specialist, Paul Nilsen aka @Basketmedia365
Is Thomas the best acquisition of the summer?
When the heart was ripped out of ZVVZ USK Praha and they waved goodbye to a number of big hitters at the end of last season - not least their three leading scorers, it placed some extra pressure on their recruitment. However, the subsequent addition of EuroLeague Women rookie Alyssa Thomas looks to have proven an absolute master stroke so far. While her skills were already known from her WNBA displays, it could barely have been a better start to her career in Europe - both for the player herself and her new employers. The red-hot form of Thomas has propelled Praha to a super 4-1 record and her 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals against Castors Braine were so typical of her immense contributions. The evidence is compelling right now. While still relatively early days, Thomas might just prove to be the very best signing of the 2018-19 off-season!
Are Bourges the real deal for the Final Four?
It was one of the most absorbing games of the season so far and when you have other players like Cecilia Zandalasini tweeting about how brilliant the contest was, you know it was one to re-watch. Yes, Bourges Basket ultimately fell short against the unbeaten defending champions UMMC Ekaterinburg as they went down in overtime, but despite not winning, the French powerhouse made a clear statement of their potential to me. Not least, because within the game itself, they went behind by double digits. That was the most impressive element. Normally, that is curtains closed and good night against a class opponent like Ekat. But instead, Bourges battled back and showed great teeth to almost bite UMMC hard. I like this Bourges team as much as any other I have in recent memory. What this performance did for me, was to solidify the feeling that there is no reason whatsoever Bourges can't make it to the Final Four this season. It is realistic. They have to keep aiming high and believe. Congratulations to UMMC by the way. It is a sign of champions to dig out the win when placed under big pressure.
Can you get more efficient than Jones?
We should be putting up the name of Brionna Jones up in lights right now. The Nadezhda center continues to be one of the most consistent and impressive players in the competition - just like last season. Win or lose, you can guarantee that Jones will have produced for her team and while she is not spectacular, you have to take your hat off to the fact that including the Qualifiers, Jones racked up her seventh double-double this week - that is one in every single game. She finished with 16 points and 12 boards against ESBVA-LM which continued her amazingly clinical run. Since she debuted in the competition in 2017, she has made 109 of 195 shots - a rate of 54% from the field. That is consistency personified!
Quigley return but familiar Schio story
There was much anticipation for the return of Allie Quigley to the competition as she lined up for struggling Famila Schio at CCC Polkowice. However, her presence was not enough to help the Italians get off the mark with a first win and they are now 0-5. Schio may have bolstered their offensive firepower with her presence, but it was a familiar problem that took them down once again. They went 2-of-13 from three-point rage. Quigley made both - meaning the rest of the team was a stone cold 0-of-11. Ouch. It's tough on Coach Vincent as he tries to put the pieces together from that off-season major roster surgery. And, his mood won't be helped when he looks and sees that next up is UMMC. It never rains - it only pours with rain when you are struggling!
Under the radar
- It was a heavy loss for Castors Braine at ZVVZ USK Praha, but you can't knock the hard work of Celeste Trahan-Davis. The forward came up with more rebounds than any other player in a game this season as she hauled down an impressive 17 of them. As part of that tally, she also had the most defensive rebounds so far this season with 13.
- In the same game, ZVVZ USK Praha equaled the current game-high record this season for steals after snapping up 15 of them.