Which clubs will clinch the last EuroCup Women Regular Season spots?
MUNICH (Germany) - Opportunity knocks loudly for a glut of clubs entering the EuroCup Women Qualifiers during the next fortnight, as they all try to make the Regular Season.
Here's what you need to know ahead of the Qualifiers:
A total of twenty-six (26) clubs will play in thirteen (13) pairings during the Qualifiers. The teams will play home and away games in a two-leg format. The winners of each of the pairings will qualify for the EuroCup Women Regular Season which is divided into two Conferences. More on the competition system can be found HERE.
Piestansky Cajky (SVK) v Flammes Carolo Basket (FRA)
Outlook: Flammes will be big favorites to advance to the next phase as they have previous EuroLeague Women pedigree and made the EuroCup Women Final Four last season.
Players to Watch: It's a young Piestanske Cajky team and there will be a big onus on Croatia playmaker Matea Tadic. Take your pick forFlammes, who have the likes of Nigerian powerhouse Evelyn Akhator, veteran playmaker Amel Bouderra (pictured), the dynamic Tima Pouye and promising German star Leonie Fiebich.
House of Talents Spurs (BEL) v Tarbes GB (FRA)
Outlook: Tarbes GB will be expected to use their expertise of playing in the highly rated French League and many campaigns in EuroCup Women to put away the newcomers from Belgium.
Players to Watch: Sien Devliegher is a do-it-all baller for the Belgians and for Tarbes, look out for the experienced Julia Wojta, plus highly-rated young French duo Marie Pardon and Serena Kessler
Elitzur Holon (ISR) v HataySpor (TUR)
Outlook: Hatay will be favorites for this one because of their superior depth, but they will have to be focused against an ambitious opponent.
Players to Watch: Elitzur Holon have a defensive rock in the veteran Kelsey Bone, while Hatay have a game-winner in waiting in Kalani Brown, plus Turkey national team forward Bahar Caglar Okten (pictured) who's seen and done it all.
Eleftheria Moschatou (GRE) v Polskieprzetwory Bydgoszcz (POL)
Outlook: This one might be particularly interesting since on paper and looking back at track records, the team from Poland should have enough. But, Moschatou have been wanting to take a step forward like this for some time.
Players to Watch: Argentina guard Macarena Rosset averaged double-digits for her country at the FIBA Women's AmeriCup this summer and also dropped almost 15 points per outing in Italy last season. For Bydgoszcz, Laura Miskiniene made a noise for Polish champs Gdynia last season and played well in EuroLeague Women.
Pszczolka Polski Cukier AZS UMCS Lublin (POL) v Sparta&K M.R Vidnoje (RUS)
Outlook: This has got scope to be one of the ties of the round if both clubs play to their potential. Lublin have punched hard in the Polish League in recent years, while Sparta&K once won EuroLeague Women four years running - a feat still never to have been matched, as well as competing in EuroCup Women during past sesons.
Players to Watch: If the free-scoring Kamiah Smalls suits up for Lublin as hoped, it could be quite a backcourt battle with Alexis Jones from Sparta&K (pictured).
Niki Lefkadas (GRE) v NKA Universitas PEAC (HUN)
Outlook: It could be a hard one to call and depend who is able to get their best five on the floor for this one, but PEAC look like they possibly have the edge. They have certainly had more European experience as a club than their rivals.
Players to Watch: Big things are expected from Destinee Walker in her debut season if she is able to line up and fellow American Kobi Thornton too. Meanwhile Hungarian frontcourt star Virag Kiss will be looking to follow up on her great form for PEAC last season, with the addition of Tyaunna Marshall also very important.
Ulriken Eagles (NOR) v Liege Panthers (BEL)
Outlook: It's a huge boost for Ulriken Eagles and Norwegian basketball for them to be competing this seasonand they could have had a much worse draw than the Panthers. While Liege will be expected to advance, it could be interesting.
Players to Watch: Karyn Sanford is a brilliant young guard and the most talented player to have ever come out of Norway. Her fellow 2003 born young gun Julia Franquin is also one to watch for Liege as she is a promising forward.
La Molisana Magnolia (ITA) v Duran Maquinaria Ensino (ESP)
Outlook: A fascinating tie between two clubs who will have to play well to make a splash in their respective domestic leagues, with both Italy and Spain hugely competitive. It looks a potentially entertaining tie and closely matched, with game-winners on both teams.
Players to Watch: Magnolia have talented Argentinian guard Florencia Chagas, more cscoring power in Robyn Parks and the experienced Nina Premasunac. In return, Ensino have power in the paint from Portuguese baller Sofia Silva and Spanish duo Tamara Abalde (pictured) and Georgina Bahi, plus Italian rising star guard Alessandra Orsili.
Banco Sardegna Sassari (ITA) v Grengewald (LUX)
Outlook: On the surface, a team from the Italian league would be expected to be dominant against a side from Luxembourg, but Grengewald has got some talent so it might not be as straightforward as some predict.
Players to Watch: Maggie Lucas is someone that is a clutch performer and can get the job done for Sassari, but Grengewald have their own potential game winner. They have Canadian Cassandra Brown, who also played in Sweden last season like Lucas and scored almost 20 points per game.
Haukar (ISL) v Clube Uniao Sportiva (POR)
Outlook: An intriguing geographical battle before both clubs get on the floor, with Iceland meeting the Azores and much Atlantic water to be travelled across. Even if Sportiva might be expected to go through because of recent participation, Iceland basketball has been on the rise.
Players to Watch: Helena Sverrisdottir is a legend in Iceland and her presence will be essential, while Dutch guard Laura Westerik was an interesting pick up for Sportiva as she can find the hot hand and score freely.
London Lions (GBR) v Spar Gran Canaria (ESP)
Outlook: This looks a really great tie to follow, with the whole of the British Basketball family behind London in a rare EuroCup Women adventure for a UK club team. Spar Gran Canaria used to be regulars in the competition and are eyeing up a return to Regular Season action.
Players to Watch: Lions can call upon London 2012 Olympians Jo Leedham-Warner (pictured) and Azania Stewart, plus rising star Holly Winterburn and the influential playmaker Kennedy Leonard. Spar Gran Canaria will be looking to Belgian national team shooter Hanne Mestdagh and also hoping they have the brilliant global youth star Sika Kone available - or at least for one leg as the Mali ace could be at FIBA Women's AfroBasket for the opening leg.
Ludovika-FCSM Csata (HUN) v A3 Basket Umea (SWE)
Outlook: Both clubs look like they have a good shot at moving to the Regular Season, with Csata embarking on a new adventure and Umea having been regular participants in past seasons.
Players to Watch: Hungarian Reka Lelik is a super baller and will be a leading figure for Csata, while the experienced Tiffany Brown has signed to pull the strings in the backcourt for a second spell with Umea,
AC PAOK (GRE) v Elazig Il Ozel Idare (TUR)
Outlook: While Elazig enjoyed a stunning first season in the competition last year when they made the last eight, things will be different this time with seemingly fewer standout players. That will give PAOK hope in a tie that is not as unbalanced as it might have been last year.
Players to Watch: Center Rachel Holivay could be a handful under the basket, with Greek national team guard Pinelopi Pavlopoulou a talent in the backcourt for PAOK. Meanwhile Elazig will have an inside track from new guard Kolby Morgan who played in Greece last season and won the title with Panathinaikos. She could be joined in the backcourt by NCAA star Lindsey Pulliam in what will be her first pro-season overseas.