15 September, 2021
10 April, 2022
EuroLeague Women Final Four to return to Istanbul
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Semi-Finals preview: Who will reach the Final in Istanbul?

ISTANBUL (Turkey) - The EuroLeague Women Final Four in Istanbul is potentially shaping up to be the most unpredictable in memory and that could result in some classic games - starting with the Semi-Finals.

Former winners Perfumerias Avenida will match up against Sopron Basket who have not yet won the competition, prior to another former champion ZVVZ USK Praha facing hosts Fenerbahce Safiport who are also seeking a historic maiden title.

As well as everything you need to know below about Friday's games, you can also check out the view of our Expert Panel who have already made their predictions as to how things might unfold in the tournament.

Perfumerias Avenida v Sopron Basket

Form guide: Perfumerias Avenida finished the EuroLeague Women Regular Season second in Group A with an 11-3 record, prior to beating Spar Girona 2-1 in the Quarter-Finals. Domestically, they won the Copa De La Reina recently against Girona also and sit top of Liga Femenina with 27 wins and just a single loss.

Sopron Basket have had an up and down year both in EuroLeague Women and domestically, ultimately finishing second in Group B with an 8-6 mark. That includes losing twice in Istanbul to both Galatasaray and Fenerbahce Safiport. In Hungary they  were left stunned when they lost the Cup Final last month to DVTK Miskolc, but then beat them in the Semi-Finals of the Play-Offs.

Key matchup: What a duel it is going to be between the defensive powerhouse that is Gabby Williams of Sopron and the recently crowned EuroLeague Women MVP, Kahleah Copper of Avenida. The former was the Defensive Player of the Season last year and only just missed out on consecutive awards, as she finished runner-up in the voting. While Williams is about much more than defense for her team and is a major contributor offensively too, the winger will probably be tasked with shutting down Copper. The Avenida star has been on fire most of the campaign and can score in so many different ways. It doesn't get much more exciting or intriguing for fans of the competition than this.

X-factor: Defense, defense and more defense from these two teams means it could be tight and this maybe brings into play shooters that can put daylight between the teams with a couple of big outside shots at key moments. For Perfumerias Avenida it might be Karlie Samuelson who has done it before off the bench, while Sopron Basket might be looking towards Nevena Jovanovic in a similar role - making the kind of buckets that she does at critical times for Serbia in the big games.

There is also the added factor that unexpectedly, Perfumerias Avenida will now possibly have the services of Katie Lou Samuelson, with the American baller having not featured in more than two months.

Did you know: Perfumerias Avenida have never lost in a EuroLeague Women Semi-Final, having made the Final in 2009, 2011 and also last year. The Spanish club have both the best field goal accuracy at 46.4 percent and also the best free-throw accuracy at 80.7 percent in the competition.

Sopron Basket are appearing in the Semi-Finals for the fourth season in a row, but have only previously made the title game once in 2018. They have conceded only 62.8 points per game this season, which is fewer than any other team. That is helped by the fine work from Gabby Williams who has made 37 steals, the most by any player this season.

ZVVZ USK Praha v Fenerbahce Safiport

Form guide: ZVVZ USK Praha finished the EuroLeague Women Regular Season with 10 wins and four losses, which harvested them third place in Group A. Domestically they have been as imperious as usual, having won every game in the ZBL.

Fenerbahce Safiport were Group B winners with an 11-3 record and head into the Final Four having won 11 games in a row, nine in the Regular Season and a 2-0 Quarter-Finals success against BLMA. Leading the Turkish League 21-2, they did suffer some disappointment recently when they lost in the Turkish Cup Final against CBK Mersin Yenisehir Bld. 

Key matchup: Is it written in the stars that Ukraine national team phenomenon Alina Iagupova leads Fenerbahce to the title and ultimately a first ever title? Yet for as brilliant she is offensively, she has a job to utilizing her underrated defensive skills, since Maria Conde of Praha has arguably been the form player of the whole competition during the past weeks in particular. So much so, the Spaniard was not far off being named the Season MVP. This matchup is absolute fire on paper and if it lives up to expectation on the court, it will be epic to watch.

X-factor: ZVVZ USK Praha are never more dangerous than when they are converting an almost massive 22 points per game off turnovers and dropping a near 18 points on the fast break. While Fenerbahce has the talent and depth to run and gun at times, they will have to look after the ball, because Praha get down the court well and are ruthless in capitalizing on errors. 

If Veronika Vorackova can add a scoring touch for Praha, then the Czech giants could make life more uncomfortable for the hosts

In terms of players, Veronika Vorackova will need to have one of her better games for ZVVZ USK Praha as they have far less bench depth than their opponents. The guard averages only 7 points per game but has come up with a couple of really nice displays, including 18 points in the Quarter-Finals decider against Schio. Now would be a good time for another strong showing to take the pressure off her team a little -  especially because Fenerbahce have so many scoring guard options.

Did you know: ZVVZ USK Praha are the last non-Russian team to win the EuroLeague Women title. Back in 2015 they lifted it for the first time and intriguingly, they did so via a win against Fenerbahce in the Semi-Finals. In the subsequent seven years, they have lost in the Semi-Finals three times. Meanwhile the Czech club averages 11.4 steals per game, which is more than anyone else.

Fenerbahce Safiport have reached the Semi-Finals for the eighth time in the last 10 years, having managed to push on and reach the Final three times, although they then lost on each occasion. They are on their best winning streak in the competition since the 2013-14 season and will bring a strong outside threat, Kayla McBride (53) and Alina Iagupova (45) have scored the most three-pointers among all players in the competition this season.