25 September, 2019
19 April, 2020
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Final Four favorites strengthen their grip, Kursk and Girona suffer falls

MUNICH (Germany) - The race for Final Four continues and the leading sides continue to make a strong case that they will make the showpiece event, while some clubs with big ambitions are sliding away from contention.

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Gelecek Koleji Cukurova - Just make it stop. Please. Cukurova are looking barely competitive and announced they will not play non-Turkish players very much so they can focus on the fight for survival in the Turkish League. It has all become ugly, although bizarrely they might think about a win against an out-of-sorts Braine this week before a trip to UMMC - when maybe we will all have to watch from behind a cushion. That could be absolutely scary.



Castors Braine - Losing Celeste Trahan-Davis is taking a toll already and without the towering presence of their marquee forward, it has been a forgettable start to 2020. Losing by almost 20 to the struggling TTT and then crashing miserably at home to Nadezhda is now followed by Bourges away and then Reyer Venezia at home. They have got to find more of an offensive punch and urgently, because beating Venezia in particular looks a must.


Arka Gdynia - They finished 2019 with consecutive losses and have opened up 2020 with the same. Avoiding that losing streak extending to five games when they face Girona this week will be important. The team work is still there and they play well together as a unit, but the special individual performances often needed to take wins in this brutal competition have dried up. Indeed not a single player from Gdynia got into double-digits in their last outing. 


TTT Riga - Despite just a solitary win from the opening nine games, could TTT Riga now justifiably have an eye on a spot in EuroCup Women? Having beaten Braine impressively, they almost sneaked a surprise victory at Le Prado against Bourges. A positive start for Coach Zibarts and this week is absolutely pivotal as they host Cukurova. They can't slip up and will want revenge for a heartbreaking loss previously. Also they have UMMC the week after and know the Russian juggernauts will want to make up for that seismic shock loss in Riga against TTT.



Spar Citylift Girona - The loss to Lyon a couple of weeks ago was a big mental blow to Girona and the final quarter against Sopron last week only papered over some worrying cracks as they were defeated again. They trailed a modest Sopron roster by as many as 28 points at one stage. Too many big players are not producing  consistently and offensively, they look blunt. Two huge weeks now lie in wait with Gdynia at home and then Kursk on the road. They need at least one victory from these games to get back on track.


Dynamo Kursk - A change of coach, the recruitment of yet another big name player in Angel McCoughtry, and yet Kursk have now lost four games in a row and started 2020 with defeats at Schio and at home to BLMA. The performance at Schio shocked many observers as it was just not good enough. The chemistry is missing for sure. Next up? Fenerbahce on the road, so it doesn't get any easier. Ironically, if they make EuroCup Women, they could easily end up with silverware. But only if the players gel and apply themselves to the level of their talents. 


Reyer Venezia - You could say Reyer Venezia have kept to the script by beating Cukurova and losing heavily at UMMC. They were arguably not that impressive even in victory, but a win is a win. With Nadezhda  at home and Braine away next, 1-1 is the minimum and we can justifiably move them as high as 10th because they could win both and move to what would be a handy 5-7 and take a stride towards EuroCup Women. They have to turn up the heat from long-range though. Their lack of a consistent threat outside could eventually bite them.

Sopron Basket - After crashing at Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo, despite bringing in the veteran expertise of Candice Dupree, they were under pressure at home to Girona with just a solitary win in seven games. The response was immense as they took apart their Spanish opponents with some very nice team ball, led by Jelena Brooks. The big plus is that they are in front of their home fans again this week against Lyon and another win would really put them back in the mix - even if it is a difficult and in-form opponent. Could the mid-season clouds be disappearing?  


Famila Schio - The past couple of weeks have evidenced what an unforgiving competition EuroLeague Women can be. One moment you are hammering Dynamo Kursk and then you lose one of your marquee players in Diamond DeShields to a serious injury and you are then getting hammered at Lyon. It has been a testing time for Coach Pierre Vincent and with BLMA away and Fenerbahce at home, Schio will do well to avoid losing three in a row. 



Nadezhda - An expected loss to UMMC and brutal demolition of Castors Braine in these past weeks, with Anastasiya Verameyenka becoming the EuroLeague Women All-Time blocks leader. That defensive power could be a serious difference-maker. Reyer Venezia on the road looks like an opportunity and Praha at home will test that defense to the limit. Overall. they're looking solid, with Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe still impressing. 


LDLC Asvel Feminin - Things are looking very bright for Lyon now after some struggles for most of last November and December. They have extended their winning streak to three games after beating both Girona and Schio. Helena Ciak showed out in the last game, the return of Alysha Clark has made them look a whole  lot deeper and they will fancy their chances of moving up the table further if they can dig out a win at Sopron and beat arch rivals BLMA. 


Bourges Basket - It's been an up and down fortnight after splitting games. They lost to ZVVZ USK Praha and only just scraped past TTT Riga to avoid a shock home loss. There is mitigation that Ana Dabovic was missing with an injury and now she is back. At least Marissa Coleman is stepping up which is great. With Braine at home and Cukurova on the road next, opportunity knocks very loudly. Anything other than a very healthy 8-4 record would be a major setback. 


BLMA - With five wins in six games, they are one of the form clubs of the competition. Even if they lost to Landerneau domestically in between beating Gdynia at home and  Kursk on the road, everything looked rosy in the garden! Especially when Gabby Williams pulls out such an amazing display and Sami Whitcomb is sinking triples for fun. While Schio and Lyon next are two truly super match-ups to see if the French side can continue in the ascendancy, they have also been stung badly by the news that the dominant Steph Mavunga is out for 6-8 weeks with a foot injury. That could be a  potentially fatal blow to their Final Four prospects.


Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo - Despite a surprise loss domestically and that departure of Anna Cruz, Fenerbahce have continued to show their teeth. Their 8-2 record is impressive as they top Group B after dominant wins against Sopron and Gdynia, These next couple of weeks should be more of a test at home to Kursk, who may be struggling but have Angel McCoughtry no doubt wanting to haunt her ex-employers in Istanbul. Then Schio on the road. Alina Iagupova is continuing her surge towards potentially being Regular Season MVP.


UMMC Ekaterinburg - Easy wins over Nadezhda and Reyer Venezia included the belated comeback of Alba Torrens at just the right time. But surely this is all about this week's game at home to Praha. The chance to make a statement and how they are not willing to give up their precious silverware this season will be hard to resist. What a game it promises to be! Great match-ups everywhere you look. Delicious! Oh and they have already secured their Quarter-Finals spot.



ZVVZ USK Praha - Even when they won the title a few years ago, surely Coach Hejkova didn't have them playing this way. Dominant, relentless, entertaining, team-orientated but with special stars. It has been amazing. They still look like the real deal and are flying, having also qualified for the Quarter-Finals. Big wins were achieved against Bourges and Cukurova in these past weeks but now a super test of their title credentials. The big one - UMMC on the road - and then a trip back to Russia against a hard-nosed Nadezhda side. All outcomes look possible, from 2-0 to 0-2 or 1-1! Tough to predict. 

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

Paul Nilsen

Paul Nilsen

The EuroLeague 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.