25 September, 2019
19 April, 2020
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Power Rankings: Big climb for Bourges, clubs make player and coaching changes

MUNICH (Germany) - It's our first set of Power Rankings in 2020 and we're hyped at what lies in wait as the race to make the Final Four begins to gather pace.

Will the winter break give some strugglers a reason to push the pause button and reset, whose momentum might it have disrupted and what impact will the multiple playing and coaching changes have on those who opted to bring in fresh blood?

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Gelecek Koleji Cukurova - They may not have the worst record, but there's not a lot to love about their season. The biggest alarm remains bringing in several new players and getting no big uplift in performance or results. They have lost the last four games by 30, 31, 56 and 10. It's been tough and they're even struggling domestically too. This next game against Reyer Venezia is huge. Can they recover from their miserable four game losing run?


TTT Riga - The only club in the competition with just one win, TTT Riga are maybe where they probably feared at the start of 2020. The 50-point loss to Praha before the break underlined their struggles. They just don't have the quality or depth of their rivals. The good news is Castors Braine next at home and that is a game they can target to double their win tally. Megan Huff and Binta Drammeh have played well, but there's been little to cheer outside of that.


Castors Braine - Would Coach Fred Dusart have  taken 3-5 at this stage? Maybe. They would be higher had they not had to finish 2019 with the nightmare of Praha and UMMC on the road. The outcome of two big losses was predictable but now they have an amazing opportunity to get back on track and maybe a 5-5 record with Riga on the road and then Nadezhda at home. Losing Celeste Trahan-Davs to injury is a blow, with Rebecca Tobin a temporary replacement.


Reyer Venezia - We won't lie. It is difficult to fathom how much Reyer are achieving (or not) against expectation. Reyer got a great and much needed win at TTT Riga but then suffered a 23-point loss at Le Prado against Bourges. The next two fixtures could not be more stark, with a must-win against Cukurova and a surely inevitable loss against UMMC. They are still being hamstrung by a lack of production from the backcourt and especially the perimeter.



Sopron Basket - Even if Sopron are sat bottom of their group, things are so tight, with four teams holding the same 3-5 record. Fans might be more upbeat  now veteran favorite Candice Dupree is on board. The forward was immense during her previous spell and should add solidity in the frontcourt, with priceless experience and scoring. Although beating Fenerbahce is a big ask next – even if they have had success against the Turkish giants in recent seasons.


Arka Gdynia - Have the wheels come flying off? After three straight wins, it was then back-to-back losses to wrap up 2019 for Gundars Vetra and his players - including a painful 27-point home loss to Schio. They have had the chance to regroup and perhaps stew on their worst showing of what has been an otherwise positive showing. But avoiding four consecutive defeats will be difficult because it is BLMA on the road and Fenerbahce at home next.


Spar Citylift Girona - It's been a succession of tight ones for Girona but unfortunately they have lost two of those last three games, narrowly going down to Schio and Fenerbahce, while pipping BLMA. These next three games could define their prospects against Lyon, Sopron and Gdynia. Opportunity knocks. With every game Sonja Vasic gets stronger after her lengthy layoff, then Girona's chances should increase. She has only played two games so far of course. Then that super signing of Marta Xargay who will link up with her best friend Sonja. Wow!

Dynamo Kursk - It's not only a balanced 4-4 record for Kursk, but also a new slate for 2020 after a change of playcaller and also a marquee signing. Roberto Iniguez departed after his side collapsed against Lyon before the break and he has been replaced by Momir Tasich. He will be able to try and get the Russians rolling again with Angel McCoughtry who has penned a deal with Kursk and that could be huge as she led them to the title a few seasons ago. But Schio, BLMA and Fenerbahce in the next 3 games could barely be more difficult.


LDLC Asvel Feminin - Things were looking bleak for Lyon in a big way heading into that last game of 2019 against Dynamo Kursk. But, under pressure they got a big win and improved to 3-5, even if this is still not up to what was expected. All eyes were on teenage phenomenon Juste Jocyte as she made history by becoming the youngest ever player in the competition, while even better things are ahead because the brilliant Alysha Clark is back from injury. She will be needed in two great upcoming games against Girona and Schio.



Nadezhda - It's a slight fall for Nadezhda who closed out the first part of the season with a loss at Bourges and a labored victory at home to the struggling Cukurova. When you also factor in that UMMC are next in line, it’s a mixed picture for the Orenburg side, who will be favored to fall to 5-4 this week. Still, it has been a reasonably solid campaign so far. The only concern remains that continued over reliance on Yvonne Turner and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe.


Bourges Basket - You can't blame us for Bourges being the biggest climber! They didn’t want 2019 to end after finishing with five wins in six games. After a sticky start to the season, they were flying heading into the break, but will stopping have cost them valuable momentum? Can they pick up where they left off? It will be a huge ask on the road at Praha. The home game against TTT Riga the following week looks more palatable. Alexia Chartereau continues to excel while the introduction of Natalie Achonwa in the past couple of games made a difference too.


Famila Schio - Overall, it’s true that Schio are in a good place. They start the new calendar year joint-second of the group. They also signed off 2019 with their best of the season with a massive road win at Gdynia. Although the week previously they did crash perhaps surprisingly at Sopron. The next fortnight might tell us if they are Final Four potential with match-ups against Kursk and Lyon who have been under-par so far, but are dangerous. The big positives for Schio have been Jillian Harmon and Eva Lisec so far.


BLMA - What a finish it was for BLMA who are 5-3 with Schio and have won three of their last four games with victories against Lyon, Fenerbahce and Sopron. They sprung a slight surprise when they signed 2019 WNBA Champion Shey Peddy during the break after she departed from Botas. Steph Mavunga has promised to step it up in coming weeks which could mean fireworks and the French side face Gdynia and Kursk next.


Fenerbahce Oznur Kablo - Well we didn't expect the departure of Anna Cruz during the winter break, but the Spanish ace is gone. Fener fans might not be too concerned as they are still flying and top of their group after heading into 2020 off the back of wins against Lyon and Girona. It's Sopron and Gdynia next and a great chance to move to a commanding 8-2. So far, so very good for Coach Victor Lapena in his first season in Istanbul - although last weekend's shock Turkish league loss to the promoted Elazig was a wake-up call of sorts.


UMMC Ekaterinburg - Tied at the top of the group 7-1 with their arch rivals Praha, it's been generally plain sailing for Miguel Mendez and his team except for that one earthquake of a result when they lost in Riga. Will it be their only loss all season on the way to the title? You wouldn't be surprised and especially with Emma Meesseman in such great form, Jonquel Jones growing in stature since her mid-season arrival and with Alba Torrens still to come. Nadezhda and Reyer Venezia lie in wait to start 2020.



ZVVZ USK Praha - The style of basketball, the winning formula and the eye-popping numbers of team leader Alyssa Thomas. Yes, what a year it was for Praha and just as much is promised for 2020! Coach Natalia Hejkova keeps it beautifully simple and her players respond brilliantly. They look locked on for yet another Final Four although this week's test against an in-form Bourges does present a challenge. But with Thomas averaging a jaw-dropping efficiency of almost 30 (simply unbelievable) surely they are set to continue soar.

*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.