09 October, 2018
14 April, 2019
17 Erica Wheeler (NAD)
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Power Rankings: Will the new signings for 2019 make a difference?

MUNICH (EuroLeague Women) - Having entered  the new calendar year and with several clubs making personnel changes, who is ready to make a splash at the start of 2019?

Here are our Power Rankings heading into Week 8:






UMMC Ekaterinburg - The demolition continues after their brutal victory against Castors Braine when they viciously clubbed their visitors at the DIVS Arena. Worryingly for all opponents, UMMC normally show an even tougher face in the second half of the season. Scary indeed! And, ESBVA-LM are the next lambs to what is surely an inevitable slaughter. UMMC enjoyed a controversial Russian Cup win during the winter break against Kursk by the way.


Dynamo Kursk -  It was a relatively straightforward win against Hatay, although once again, less comfortable than Lucas Mondelo and his players will have wanted. They will be out to make a statement against TTT Riga after almost losing to the Latvians during Week 1. Secondly, that Russian Cup Final loss probably instilled an added sense of injustice at the club, which can be used as extra fuel to support an upturn. They waved goodbye to Tina Charles during the winter break who was a towering figure. Naturalized Turkey national team center, Quanitra Hollingsworth,  is the replacement and no stranger to Russia, having previously played for UMMC.

ZVVZ USK Praha - An express train that is crashing through even the best defenses, is there any stopping  that Praha offense? CCC Polkowice were crushed by the Czech side in the last game of 2018 and now Natalia Hejkova and her players are eyeing up a brilliant 7-1 record if they beat  Nadezhda. But, it won't necessarily  be easy since Nadezhda were buoyed by their win against Schio. It was Praha who won the first meeting with ease and will want to do the double. The points in the paint and scoring power is skewed massively in the favor of the home team. 

Bourges Basket - We hear you Bourges fans! A move down our rankings after a big win against ESBVA-LM? It probably feels unfair. Well,  we had to move Praha up after that destruction of CCC. Plus, Bourges were hammered by BLMA in the French League so is that a wake-up call? They have a mouth-watering clash this week against a Polkowice side that will include former Bourges stars Stella Kaltsidou and Johannah Leedham-Warner. Can the hosts keep the tempo high and run Polkowice hard?

Sopron Basket - Two words - Queralt Casas! Well actually make it three, because you can also add the word momentum. The Spanish ace will be pumped up for this one against Carolo Basket on Thursday after switching from the French side just before the winter break! Also after those wins against Hatay and TTT Riga, it feels like the defense has went up a big level, Coach Iniguez seems more focused than ever and Sopron seem like this could be a time to really make a push upwards. Shutting down Kaleena Lewis will be key and chasing their opponents off the three-point line.

Perfumerias Avenida - It was a thrilling  buzzer-beating win at Olympiacos to finish 2018, but did they deserve it? Avenida will not care. The history books will show they got the W and moved to 4-3.  This feels like a must-win for the Spanish side at home to Hatay. If they can carefully shackle the free-scoring Hind Ben Abdelkader from range, they should be favorites. But this is a tough game and Avenida will really want to avoid a third loss on their home floor, since Pabellon Wurburg is normally a fortress. Avenida have waved goodbye to Aija Putnina during the winter break.

TTT Riga - It was a feisty and aggressive matchup with Sopron in their last outing when they were locked down and had to stomach a loss. Now another defeat seems likely at Kursk this week, although Riga will draw strength from that first game of the season when they could and should have beaten the Russian juggernauts. Importantly, Riga will be out to make sure this is not a season of two halves. Even if they lose and the momentum is lost, they will want to avoid going into a slump. That is why the performance this week needs to be strong and vibrant - whatever the score. It's tough to see a shock road win, but Kursk have been leaving the door open to this possibility in so many games.

Fenerbahce - It is probably accurate to say their last game of 2018 was an example of how Fenerbahce have been all season - inconsistent. Awful in the first half against Carolo, they were brilliant after the break. It really is now time for the giants to wake up, give themselves a shake and start delivering against their potential and talent. 4-3 was a winning record, but their worst for 17 years after 7 games. They need a flying start to 2019 and Oympiacos should be dispatched with relative ease. Fenerbahce have the size and depth to really make it a painful experience for the visitors. Also, Bria Hartley hit a EuroLeague Women career high against Carolo Basket and will want to continue that level. The big worry is that they got owned by Cukurova in the league over the weekend and that was a crushing loss.

CCC Polkowice- There are plenty of reasons for CCC Polkowice wanting to  take this game to Bourges. Firstly, revenge is on the menu because the French side humbled them in Poland back at the start of the season with a huge victory. Secondly, CCC were just about humiliated by Praha, who wiped the floor with them in that last outing of 2018. It probably  felt a bitter pill over the winter break and probably took the shine off an otherwise positive first half of the season. Perhaps Lynetta Kizer and Temi Fagbenle can grind down the Bourges frontcourt, but who will be guarding Marine Johannes? There is also the worry that CCC ended 2018 with a Polish League loss and opened up 2019 with a defeat as well. 




Nadezhda - Having chalked up that miserable 36 points at CCC Polkowice on Game Day 6, it was a really gutsy and eye-catching effort to react and  beat Famila Schio. They had trailed early in the game and could have crumbled. The rebounding was sensational from the Russian side and they will have to bring that quality on the glass to the Czech capital if they want to avenge an opening days loss to Praha. Erica Wheeler looks key for them in this one and she might need to drop a 20+ points haul for Nadezhda to even try and keep pace with the home side. At least Nadezhda have strengthened with the addition of Laura Nicholls. She had been rumored to be going to Avenida, but is linking up with her compatriot Coach Lapena in Orenburg!


Carolo Basket - They may have lost  at Fenerbahce, but they gave their hosts a major scare and showed with this, and also the win against Olympiacos in the previous game, that they are back on track. Their first Regular Season still has much promise with their 3-4 record, although  they do need to get that first road win. It will be tough at Sopron of course, but if playmaker Amel Bouderra can find some form after only an average season so far, they could cause some problems. 


Hatay - There is no doubt that a 2-5  record feels like a massive disappointment for Hatay against their pre-season expectations and winning start to the campaign.  One player they could do with getting more involved is the hugely talented Marica Gajic who has not imposed herself in games as much as hoped. But a special player, this second half of her rookie season could be key. Avenida on the road is another difficult trip, so Hatay will have to really get ready for a physical contest and make sure they match that intensity to give themselves a chance. The addition of Riquna Williams to the backcourt during the winter break should help them a lot.


Olympiacos  - What are we doing moving up a 0-7 team like this? We can hear you shouting it  back to us. But , even the most ardent Avenida fan would surely admit Olympiacos were so unfortunate not to win that last game of 2018 and take a historical first ever Regular Season success. They played brilliantly in crunch time and were only undone by the cruelest of buzzer beaters, with Anna Spyridopoulou very impressive. On that basis and because the bottom three all sucked big-time in their last games, we feel an uplift is deserved. They have nothing to lose at Fenerbahce this week and can play freely and go for what would be a massive upset and famous win if they did pull it off. But they really must make more outside shots and try to be more clinical in transition. 


ESBVA-LM - The downward spiral is set to continue for ESBVA-LM  who are likely to suffer a huge loss for the third  straight week. After a home court destruction at the hands of Praha and a hefty loss at Bourges, it's now off to Ekaterinburg. Trying to even be competitive right now looks like a challenge. Therefore this looks set to get worse before it gets better. ESBVA-LM  fans may need to watch this one through their fingers as it is not likely to be pretty against the defending champions. After all, the gulf in talent is obvious and the French side are not even averaging 60 points per game. ESBVA-LM are also now struggling domestically too. They do now have the experience of Ann Wauters off the court at least, after the legend agreed to be a consultant and mentor to the players and staff.


Famila Schio - It's coming, this week against Castors Braine - surely. It simply must be 8th time lucky for Schio. Losing would be...well indescribably depressing and inexplicable. The time is now for the Italians to get rolling and get off the mark. They have to put that poor performance at Nadezhda in their previous game behind them. They have to roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work and then also produce a performance. They have more quality and there are no more excuses left - not least against a side that has lost six straight.


Castors Braine - It was an inevitable slide to rock bottom for Castors Braine who have not won since the opening day of the  season, and were like fish in a barrel for the firing predator that was UMMC. Now 1-6 and with  this game against Schio ahead, their biggest friend is that all the pressure is on the home side, plus they know they can beat this team. It is hard to see where their next win is coming from at this juncture, but if Karlie Samuelson can find the hot hand, Celeste Trahan-Davis continues to play well, perhaps they could sneak a W? The other reason to be hopeful is that they have taken the winter break to add Greek shooter Eleanna Christinaki and increase their muscle in the paint with Brandi Harvey-Carr.

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