09 October, 2018
14 April, 2019
Kristina Litsi (OLY), Anna Niki Stamolamprou (OLY), Angeliki Nikolopoulou (OLY), Olympiacos v Fenerbahce
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Power Rankings: Avenida and Olympiacos impress, while Riga and Schio slump

MUNICH (EuroLeague Women) - After the exciting conclusion of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 Qualifiers, it's back to the bread and butter of  EuroLeague Women.

We take a look both ways down the street as we reflect on what happened prior to the national team break in the last round of games - as well as looking at what lies in store this week.






UMMC Ekaterinburg -  It could barely be going more smoothly for UMMC. A big win against domestic rivals Nadezhda showed their power once again. They are 3-0, the tournament's top scorers, the deadliest three-point shooters, the best rebounders and have handed out the most assists. Yes, they are dripping with mega stars, but the team ethic is perhaps most impressive. It's a no-brainer the champions stay as the top ranked club and next up? Well, it is a mouth-watering matchup with the similarly perfect, ZVVZ USK Prague.


Dynamo Kursk - There was a sense of deja-vu in the last outing for Dynamo Kursk when for the second road game in a row, they had to work extremely hard to take victory. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Winning when you are not at your best and with room to still improve can of course be a positive, but Olympiacos really did stretch them unexpectedly. But, Kursk got it done down the stretch and now they just have to shoot the ball better. They have a great matchup this week at home to Fenerbahce and so can't afford to be off-color.

ZVVZ USK Prague - It's been a brilliant start to the season for Prague and they have simply let fly offensively and that positive approach has paid off. It was a real shootout with Bourges and they had enough in their locker to go 3-0. Even if they are sometimes suspect defensively, the freedom of expression at the offensive end makes them a joy to watch. It's the ultimate test this week as they head to UMMC. With nothing to lose as underdogs, perhaps they will be a dangerous matchup for the hosts. We're looking forward to another shootout - please! Whatever happens, Prague must go to work on the glass and match UMMC in this critical area.

Perfumerias Avenida - It's another move up for Perfumerias Avenida after that quality victory in the Latvian capital at TTT Riga. Energized by their opening win against Fenerbahce, the Spanish side were supreme on the boards against Riga and had their veterans  really going to work. Players like Silvia Dominguez and Erika Souza are in excellent form and there is a lot to love in terms of their home matchup with Sopron this week. With intensity assured on and off the court, it's all about who will have the composure in the heat of battle and if necessary, deliver in the clutch.

Bourges Basket - It may be early in the season, but this week feels like a pivotal one for Bourges. They almost went 3-0, but fell at ZVVZ USK Prague in a highly entertaining contest and therefore will be 2-2 if they slip-up at Schio. That will change the entire feeling around the club and so they must stay focused. They will surely have too much firepower for the Italians and can emerge from Italy with a 3-1 record and back singing on a positive note again. But these are very dangerous games when teams are winless. They will also know Sandrine Gruda and Coach Pierre Vincent will have an added motivation. Tempo is going to be vital in this one, with Bourges having more capacity to move the ball quickly and that could be key.

Sopron Basket - After that narrow loss to Fenerbahce in Istanbul, the heat is being turned up early and a defeat to Avenida would leave last year's Finalists sucking up a 1-3 record. Hardly where they wanted to be. Alternatively, if they can win at Pabellon Wurzburg, they would be back on an even keel. Roberto Iniguez heads back to his homeland knowing there are few places more difficult to take victory. There is a Swedish reunion with Amanda Zahui and Elin Eldebrink, while Iniguez will be aware that his team needs to slow down Silvia Dominguez who is pulling the strings as expertly as ever. This is such a good game on paper and let's hope it lives up to the billing!

Carolo Basket - It was another famous and memorable night for the French newcomers as they went 2 of 2 on their home floor with a vibrant victory against Hatay. They are doing it through team work and some players who are really loving life in this competition.  The fact they are one of only five clubs to be handing out 20 or more assists per game speaks volumes as to how much they are enjoying this early ride. Winning your home games will always give you a great foundation to build on. But, can they do it on their travels? They will be in Riga this week and will have confidence they can take this next step - especially with their opponents actually struggling at home.

ESBVA-LM - While not many people will have fancied the chances of ESBVA-LM prior to the season, their 2-1 record shows that they are so often under-valued and will always be competitive and resilient - especially on their home floor. They destroyed Schio in brutal fashion and will be eyeing up a 3-1 start with another home fixture this week against CCC Polkowice. But, they must look after the ball better as they have the second-worst record in the competition so far for turnovers and as they play a tight style that is not as expansive as other teams, they can't afford to gift transition points to opponents. They also must recover mentally from a huge domestic loss at Roche Vendee.

Fenerbahce -  The win against Sopron was gutsy - even if it was tense and not hugely convincing. Credit where it is due and with Anastasiya Verameyenka and Giorgia Sottana in good form, the chance of building some momentum is in sight. But, they have a huge task ahead of them in the shape of a matchup at Dynamo Kursk. This will be another real test. With a tight loss against Avenida and a tight win against Sopron, it has been difficult to judge the true capacity of this team. Reinforcements may be in place this week, so let's see how they do against one of the tournament frontrunners. However, confidence will have been dented by a domestic defeat to Hatay. Kursk will be looking to lock down their perimeter dangers as Fenerbahce have shot nicely from long range.


Hatay - The spotlight has been turned firmly on Hatay after we gave them a lot of love in our early power rankings, but that seemed to be us getting too excited, too early. Now they are staring at the prospect of going 1-3. with a third straight loss. They will be favorites to see off the winless Olympiacos of course, but easier said than done. They need to step it up defensively as they are getting too few steals and while they are scoring plenty themselves, they are also leaving the door wide open for opponents at certain key moments. Time to shift up a gear and follow on from a confidence-boosting success in the Turkish League against Fenerbahce.


CCC Polkowice -  It was third time lucky for CCC Polkowice as they belatedly got off the mark with a first win of the campaign. Building on the positives from their Week 2 loss at UMMC when they caused the holders some real issues, they raced out of the blocks against Castors Braine to take a comfortable victory. Now they will feel empowered to go to ESBVA-LM and collect a first road win of the season. It will be tough of course and statistically there is not a lot between both teams. Jo Leedham-Warner will get to go back to her old club.


TTT Riga - Yes, very harsh, we know. A fall of seven spots is probably not quite deserved for the Latvian side, but the reality is that many teams had better results. Throw into the mix that after the Avenida defeat last time out, it means they have still not won at home. Will it be third time lucky this week when Carolo Basket are in town? The pressure is suddenly on Riga after those raised expectations after their standout win at Hatay. But they really don't want any talk of a home-court jinx to start!


Olympiacos  - Yes, we know, they lost and the newcomers are 0-3. Why on earth would we bump them up from bottom spot and let them climb three places? Well, you had better believe it, because they really did almost cause an epic upset by taking Dynamo Kursk to the wire. They entertained us all as well and that is what we love to see! Having also played well against Fenerbahce, the signs seem to be in place that they could be ready to take that historic step of a first win. Hatay is going to be a tough place to go, but the Turkish side might have had their confidence knocked after successive losses. Can Olympiacos guard Courtney Paris? 


Castors Braine - It might not yet be an alarm that is sounding loudly in the Castors Braine camp, but it has been set, and another loss and it might just go off. The fall in our rankings is not only because of their loss to CCC Polkowice but because for a second game in a row, they scored less than 53 points. This lack of firepower is alarming! Now they go up against Nadezhda in what suddenly looks an awkward matchup - even if their opponents have not even won a single game!


Nadezhda - Yes, it is an unwanted 0-3 for Nadezhda after their capitulation against the mighty UMMC, although Victor Lapena and his side might console themselves with the fact that they have been defeated by opponents who are all in the top 5 of our rankings and are a combined 8-1 so far! Now surely it could be fourth time lucky for the Spanish playcaller in this contest with Braine. If Nadezhda score 65 points, then a victory is almost certain with strong defense. They have the advantage inside the paint so expect them to try and capitalize on this. But they simply have to look after that precious rock and also make some free throws!


Famila Schio -  It was going so well for Schio in the early stages of their previous outing at ESBVA-LM when having misfired in their first two games of the season, they blasted more than 20 in the first 10 minutes. Then, all that confidence and good work simply imploded in rather spectacular and very ugly fashion as they were swept aside. The backcourt is really struggling and the production is just not there. Even teenage ace Florencia Chagas stood out on her debut, as the Argentina rising star put a couple of plays on the highlights reel. It was a blink of beauty in a real shocking capitulation. Where to now for Coach Vincent and the Italians? Rather ironically at home to his former team Bourges Basket who may end up twisting the knife a little deeper. Plus, the visitors are coming into this one off a loss. Has Coach Vincent got the defensive strategies to shut down Marine Johannes and Co?

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and in no way a true, accurate ranking system. All comments are purely those of the author(s).