The player matchups that matter most in the Round of 16
MUNICH (Germany) - The EuroCup Women season is about to burst back into life with the Round of 16, which will be quickly followed by the Quarter-Finals of the competition.
With the Knock-Out Phase about to get underway on March 16, there's no room for error for any of the participating clubs, with more emphasis placed on the importance of individual matchups.
Here are some of the key duels that will take place in the Round of 16 and are likely to play a key role in determining who makes it to the last eight of the tournament.
Evelyn Akhator vs Tinara Moore
The imposing Evelyn Akhator will be expected to dominate in the paint for Carolo Basket and the Nigerian national team powerhouse could also have a key role in guarding and slowing down Cegled standout Tinara Moore. She has been a driving force for the Hungarian club who run so much through their marquee star and her ability to continue contributing will be essential, taking into account she has poured in over 25 points per game. The big question is whether Akahator can play a significant role in Carolo shutting her down?
Temi Fagbenle vs Cheridene Green
This is a fascinating matchup since the pair are Great Britain national team colleagues and as well as working together, will no doubt have went up against each other countless times during practice. Both took Great Britain to their historic run to the Semi-Finals at the last edition of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket, with Fagbenle making the All-Star Five. Her attributes are well known and she will play a big role with Reyer Venezia. While InvestInTheWest ENEA Gorzow forward Green is not on the radar so much, she can't be underestimated - as her Regular Season double-double of more than 13 points and 11 rebounds per game would testify.
Kseniia Levchenko vs Lisa Berkani
Both guards are from a similar generation, with their paths having crossed at youth level. Now they are likely to go head-to-head in this tie, with Levchenko a lock to pull the strings for Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje. She has had a productive season so far and is a power defensively, with only two other players having more steals per game to their name. For Berkani, this could be huge. Ordinarily the veteran Sandra Ygueravide would be playing this role but she is an injury doubt and even if she returns, may not be at the peak of her powers. Berkani will have to use her combo skills and slide over from the two. She is also a great creator in her own right, so watch out for her on the Round of 16 highlights reel.
Nika Baric vs Tyasha Harris
Both players know each other well from multiple domestic clashes this season. Baric has shown her class for both the Slovenia national team and also through many seasons competing in EuroLeague Women. Her experience will be priceless in trying to put some reins on Harris who posted a stunning Regular Season. She was the second top scorer with 26 points per game and offensively at least, will be looking to continue her rich vein of form.
Dewanna Bonner vs Iva Slonjsak
Finally in situ, the arrival of a long-time EuroLeague Women and WNBA star like Bonner surely gives KSC Szekszard an edge heading into this tie. How many minutes she plays remains to be seen, but if she is anywhere near as good as she was for Ramla during the Regular Season, she will have a big impact. It will be fascinating to see if she is given a job on the wings to close down the in-form Iva Slonjsak who has been shooting the ball great for Saint-Amand Hainaut Basket and also for Croatia. She will need to do so if the French side are to cause something of an upset.
Nadia Colhado vs Rebecca Tobin
The experience and strength of Colhado will continue to be essential for Lointek Gernika Bizkaia. The Brazilian center had one hugely memorable game during the Regular Season but even when she is not contributing offensively, she remains an anchor in the paint defensively. Meanwhile Tobin will fulfill a similar duty for ACS Sepsi-Sic. She may not stack up big numbers and especially in terms of being a scoring threat, but her work rate is important and she is always ready on the glass. It is likely to be a bruising and highly significant physical duel.
Tiffany Mitchell vs Aislinn Konig
If Ramla are to use their impressive Regular Season as a launchpad into the Knock-Out Phase and make a deep run, then much will rest on the shoulders of Mitchell. Not least because of the departure of DeWanna Bonner from the Israeli club. Fortunately, Mitchell has the ability to do it all and despite her position, always comes up with rebounds - as well as leading in points and assists. As for BCF Elfic Fribourg, they will be the underdogs, but have a very capable potential game-winner in Konig. She wasn't quite at her best shooting-wise during the Regular Season and yet still came with more than 15 points per game.
Leticia Romero vs Dora Medgyessy
This is likely to be a high intensity and dynamic backcourt match-up between two playmakers who will do everything they can to dictate the tempo and gain the upper hand. Romero has enjoyed a renaissance while at Valencia and is re-discovering the potential everyone spoke about during her impressive youth years. Meanwhile renowned 3x3 guard Medgyessy is a walking assist and a real floor general for DVTK Miskolc with 7.5 assists per outing. Her influence is huge, so Romero will have to be ready.