EuroCup Women Rankings: Volume 1
MUNICH (Germany) - With the Round of 16 looming large on the horizon, it's time to check out the first EuroCup Women Power Rankings of the campaign as the race for the title starts to seriously heat up.
As usual, roster changes, injury updates, domestic form and of course, the outcome of Regular Season games have all been taken into consideration.
#1 Valencia Basket Club SAD
Valencia look to be favorites for the title because of their Regular Season dominance and since they're also an eye-catching 24-1 in the Spanish league. They impress offensively, but also do the defensive work too. They lead the competition in blocked shot, which makes a big statement. Bec Allen is lighting it up, with Celeste Trahan-Davis and Marie Guelich making it a powerful frontcourt trio, while Leticia Romero and Queralt Casas bring the energy from the backcourt. But trhey must be careful against Miskolc.
#2 Reyer Venezia
Despite a heavy defeat to arch rivals Famila Schio in recent weeks, Reyer Venezia still lead the Italian League and were rampant in the EuroCup Women Regular Season. Lithuanian center Gintare Petronyte was sensational and with Natasha Howard, Temi Fagbenle, Elisa Penna and Martina Bestagno, the Italians are stacked physically. Playmaker Yvonne Anderson will continue directing things and with Francesca Pan in good offensive rhythm, they will be expecting to make a deep run, although Gorzow next could be difficult.
#3 KSC Szekszard
Having to settle for third place in last weekend's Hungarian Cup, it was one spot lower than their league placing. But hopes are high for a strong finish to the season on all fronts, not least because they've signed DeWanna Bonner who will link up with sister Erica McCall. With Serbian national team forward Maja Skoric back from injury in coming weeks, the rotation is strenghtened. Throw in Zala Friskovec being on fire in the Regular Season and there's a lot to love, although Saint-Amand Hainaut Basket won't be pushovers.
#4 Carolo Basket
Currently in seventh place in the French League it has still been reasonable domestic season for Carolo Basket to date as they are 8-6 and have games in hand to catch up. They now have the chance to progress in this competition as strong favorites to despatch Cegled. They have some nice credentials and lots of experience to call upon, so could be targetting the Final Four. Amel Bouderra and Yvonne Turner will continue pulling the backcourt strings, with Endy Miyem and Evelyn Akhator anchors inside.
Tyasha Harris was sensational for Bellona Kayseri Basketbol during the Regular Season
#5 Bellona Kayseri Basketbol
After a tough start to the season, it feels like the momentum is with Kayseri and that was highlighted by a huge domestic win against Round of 16 opponents Elazig last weekend. Both clubs have the same records in the Turkish League, but it feels like Bellona are on a strong upwards trajectory. They recently reinforced their roster with Glory Johnson and Kitija Laksa, while Kalani Brown is quality and Tyasha Harris was one of the standout performers of the Regular Season. On their day, Kayseri look capable of beating anybody.
#6 ACS Sepsi-Sic
The powerhouse of Romanian basketball added yet another domestic cup to their ever expanding trophy cabinet last month and could take a step towards the EuroCup Women Final Four if they can overcome Lointek Gernika Bizkaia in what looks one of the most finely balanced ties in the Round of 16. Rebekah Gadner and Jovana Pasic have led the charge so far and are likely to do so again, but as usual, head coach Zoran Mikes will be demanding and needing a big team effort - especially defensively.
The big upside for Ramla heading into the Round of 16 is that they have a favorable draw against BCF Elfic Fribourg - or at least on paper. The downside is that unlike the Regular Season, they don't have the service of DeWanna Bonner, so a lack of depth is likely to be a growing concern if they advance as anticipated. The bulk of the responsibility for making the last eight of the tournament will be in the hands of the super talented Betnijah Laney who was unstoppable in the Regular Season, along with Tiffany Mitchell.
#8 Lointek Gernika Bizkaia
The Spanish club continues to post a solid domestic campaign in Liga Feminina, currently occupying fourth place with a 15-8 record. They could justifiably argue they should swap place in the rankings with ACS Sepsi-Sic. Gernika do have a strong frontcourt with Nogaye Lo and Brazilian veteran Nadia Colhado impressive in the Regular Season, but there remains a question mark against the overall firepower available on the roster because no Round of 16 team scored fewer points per game in the first phase.
Slovenian ace Nika Baric will be pivotal to the prospects of newcomerts Elazig
#9 Elazig Il Ozel Idare
The tournament rookies have already made history. The ambition is big and they have some class players such as Nika Baric and Emma Cannon, while also adding Latvian national team standout Kristine Vitola recently. However, they have questionable depth and have been hit by a worrying injury to Jelena Dubljevic, while Kelsey Mitchell has not played in more than a month. They have lost three of their last four games domestically and are fourth from bottom of the Turkish League.
It's been an up and down season in the LFB for ESBVA-LM and no better evidenced by their shock blowout at the hands of basement side Saint-Amand last weekend. However, they'll still be slight favorites against Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje. The French club applied themselves well defensively in the Regular Season, which was essential, since no Round of 16 team shot the ball worse. Haley Peters remains the centerpiece, along with the veteran Johanne Gomis, while teenager Zoe Wadoux continues to make positive waves.
#11 Aluinvent DVTK Mislolc
On the one hand, Miskolc arguably have the toughest draw as they face tournament favorites Valencia, but the Hungarians did start the season in the EuroLeague Women Qualifiers and were looking to face top level opposition. Boosted last weekend by making the Hungarian Cup Final, their excitement was cooled by being rolled over by Sopron. They'll surely need Keyona Hayes to go off again like she did in the Regular Season, but it will take more than just her and Dora Medgyessy shining to topple the stacked Valencia.
#12 InvestInTheWest ENEA Gorzow
If the starting line-up and especially the quartet of Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. Megan Gustafson, Borislava Hristova and Cheridene Green can re-discover their excellent form from the Regular Season, then Gorzow could cause a surprise against Reyer Venezia. Much will depend on whether the rest of their core rotation and especially the bench will be able to step up and contribute against a team that is being tipped to make the Final Four.
#13 Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje
While Sparta&K probably head into their tie as slight underdogs, they'll be confident against an inconsistent ESBVA-LM. In center Peyton Williams, they had one of the most clinical finishers of the Regular Season and the rookie will need to continue in that vein, while Russia national team playmaker Kseniia Levchenko must shift through the gears. However, the Russian club must rebound the ball better at both ends of the court and show more teeth than they have domestically where they are struggling witha 6-10 record.
Assitan Kone will have a central role to play for Saint-Amand Hainaut Basket
#14 Saint-Amand Hainaut Basket
Arguably the surprise package during the last bubbles when they advanced to the Round of 16 to defy all expectations, there's no denying that their French League struggles are still alarming. They still only have three wins to their name, although the good news is that two fo those have come in the past week, so maybe their are getting momentum at the best time. The trio of Assitan Kone, Jasmine Bailey and Iva Slonsjak can combine to give them a reasonable chance against KSC Szekszard, but it looks a tough assignment.
#15 VBW CEKK Cegled
Things look difficult for Cegled who are not even a top 8 placed club in the Hungarian League right now, currently holding a losing 8-12 record. They face Carolo Basket perhaps knowing that more than ever, their hopes will rest squarely on the shoulders of the do-it-all Tinara Moore, who was superb in the Regular Season. With Spanish guard Mariona Ortiz and the experienced Aikaterina Sotiriou they have further quality, but their rotation still looks worryingly thin.
#16 BCF Elfic Fribourg
Perhaps last spot in the rankings is harsh on the Swiss side, since they did beat French outfit Landerneau during the Regular Season, which was quite a scalp. Facing Ramla will be a tough task, although they could have arguably been handed a worst opponent. As underdogs they will have nothing to lose and if they can excel as a team, with Aislinn Konig, Marielle Giroud, Tanisha Adderly, Nancy Fora and Taylor Koenen performing like they did in the first phase of the competition, they might prove to be a tricky rival.
Disclaimer: The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.
The EuroCup Women Power Rankings are put together by our panel, led by FIBA's women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen. He eats, sleeps and breathes female hoops and is incredibly passionate about the promotion of the women's game at all levels. Paul uses an extensive network of players, coaches, clubs and Federations to shape his work and opinions.