20 September, 2023
14 April, 2024
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Quarter-Finals preview: History making duo fight for a first ever Final Four spot

MUNICH (Germany) - The Quarter-Finals have arrived and there are some mouth-watering and intriguing matchups.

We'll be bringing you all you need to know about each of the ties below, with the full Quarter-Finals calendar also available HERE. 

DVTK HUN-Therm vs Villeneuve d'Ascq LM

It's a Quarter-Final that nobody would have predicted since both teams are making history by even being here. DVTK HUN-Therm had are in only their second ever season, yet came through the Play-Offs to write this new chapter for themselves. With a noisy home crowd, great Arena and super team basketball, they have made amazing memories so far and are chasing a maiden Final Four ticket. 

Facing them are Villeneuve d'Ascq LM who have flitted between EuroLeague and EuroCup Women down the years but can now call themselves a Quarter-Finals team for the first time. Much of that has been down to the work of Belgian Cats playcaller Rachid Meziane who's stock continues to rise highly. 

Key Matchup: The main driver for Villeneuve all season long but especially in the second half of the season has been Kennedy Burke who also landed a monthly MVP honor in the process. She leads the tournament in steals but is a power at both ends of the court.

It may be a tremendous duel with Reka Lelik of DVTK who has been doing very nice things on the wing for club and also for Hungary. Both are capable of the big performance or the big play in what could be a tight series, so watch out!

'X-Factor': Both DVTK HUN-Therm and Villeneuve d'Ascq LM love their respective home courts. Both have only lost once during the Regular Season in front of their own fans, so that home support could be vital again. That leans itself to DVTK HUN-Therm as they have the advantage in any game three, but is momentum just as big? The form book has seen DVTK lose three of the last four and Villeneuve win five of their last seven. What's a bigger factor, home advantage or momentum?

Stats Don't Lie:  If you're looking for any substantial discrepancy or advantage in the stats, you will be disappointed. Both teams are locked up with only marginal differences - something that feeds into the notion this could on paper at least, be going down to the wire!

What do the experts say?  

FIBA women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen: This is 50-50 but whenever I am not sure, I always look to who has the best momentum and while DVTK have home advantage in this tie, it feels the wind might be blowing in the favor of Villeneuve in what could be the best series of the Quarter-Finals. Prediction: Villeneuve d'Ascq LM

FIBA commentator and Basket Landes assistant coach Shona Thorburn:
A Cinderella season for DVTK and they are against a team that also only lost one game all season at home. But who knows, maybe DVTK's home advantage in the tie will count and they will be hosting a first Final Four! Prediction: DVTK HUN-Therm

FIBA commentator Mark Mills:
DVTK looked poised for a fairytale season but reality set in during the second half of the regular season.  They're lacking momentum and confidence with Villeneuve D'Ascq relatively consistent. Out of all the matchups, this is the one that screams a game three decider, with DVTK's crowd and home court advantage decisive. Prediction: DVTK HUN-Therm

ZVVZ USK Praha vs Beretta Famila Schio

This is a tie with real history since a couple of seasons ago, Praha labored to get past Schio in the Quarter-Finals, eventually taking a 2-1 series win. Then last season, it was Final Four first-timers Schio that beat their opponents on the home floor of Praha in the Third Place game - one that had a controversial and exciting ending.

This is amped further by the fact that Praha won Group B, but Schio are riding on a wave of positivity right now and have been outstanding in the second-half of the campaign. In fact, they have won 6 of their last 8 games, including toppling Fenerbahce Alagoz Holding. They also just scooped the Italian Cup this past weekend as well.

Key Matchup: Ezi Magbegor has been on fire during her first year in a Praha jersey and is in the MVP Race. Her prowess in the paint and shot blocking ability on defense is massive for her team. She is a towering presence and in great form as her MVP award with the Opals at the recent FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 in Belem, Brazil highlights.

Going against her could be Dorka Juhasz, who had the agony of missing out on Paris 2024 with Hungary in the most agonizing fashion, but she played well and made the All-Star Five. The task of stopping Magbegor could also fall to Julia Reisingerova. It's going to be an epic battle under the basket as Praha also have Nyara Sabally and Emese Hof!

'X-Factor': With so much talent packing the paint, there is every chance these ballers could cancel each other out. But the wings look intriguing and that puts a lot of emphasis on how Maria Conde and Valeriane Ayayi shoot for Praha. So far, they have not found their downtown range as consistently as they can as a duo.

Stats Don't Lie: The one huge difference between both of these sides is points in the paint. Praha average an eye-catching high of 34.6 per game, with Schio on 20.2

What do the experts say?  

FIBA women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen: Schio might be a tough nut to crack for Praha as the Italians have been in great form, but the Czech side have that newfound depth to rely on and it will probably mean they edge through to another Final Four. Prediction: ZVVZ  USK Praha

FIBA commentator and Basket Landes assistant coach Shona Thorburn:
Praha all season long figured out ways to win even with injuries. If everyone can stay healthy it should be Final Four as it's tough to stop Magbegor  and Sabally. But Schio can beat big time teams as they handed Fenerbache a loss. Prediction: ZVVZ  USK Praha

FIBA commentator Mark Mills:
Praha  has assembled a much deeper roster and Coach Hejkova has maximized its potential.  Schio has again embraced a team-first and underdog mentality under Coach Dikaioulakos.  If Schio manages to win their home leg and force a decisive Game 3, this series has the potential to be anyone's. Prediction: ZVVZ  USK Praha,

Cukurova Basketbol Mersin vs Casademont Zaragoza

Even if there have been a lot of changes at Cukurova this season, they are stepping out in this Quarter-Finals tie smelling the opportunity of success ahead. That is underlined by their double signing of former EuroLeague Women MVP Kahleah Copper and the dynamic Steph Mavunga from KGHM BC Polkowice. 

Re-stocked and with both January MVP Marina Mabrey and the ever-impressive Elizabeth Williams, Cukurova will be eyeing up maiden silverware. Meanwhile can the fairytale first season of Casademont Zaragoza really be extended to a first Final Four?

Another massive crowd when they step out in the second game will be hoping so!

Key Matchup: Nothing changes for Zaragoza in terms of their hopes being pinned on the fabulous Leonie Fiebich. Fresh from making history by leading her club team into the Quarter-Finals at the first time of asking, she has since delivered history for her country after Germany punched their first ever ticket to the Olympics. 

Her scoring, rebounding and clutch abilities are likely to be a big part of this series, so it will be fascinating to see who matches up with her defensively for Cukurova. Surely that will now be Kahleah Copper and that makes this an absolute treat if it happens. Or, will it even be the other new addition, Steph Mavunga?

'X-Factor': While Cukurova have more offensive options than Zaragoza, the Spanish side do have a tremendous work ethic and team defense that is capable of really locking things down. If Zaragoza can play to their absolute maximum on defense and keep things low scoring, a little bit ugly and physical, their chances of winning will rise.  

Stats Don't Lie: These teams could barely be more closely matched when it comes to crunching the stats. The only category which sees any real daylight is bench scoring in the favor of Zaragoza at 25.7 compared to 13.7. But with Cukurova beefing up their bench and starting options, even that difference is likely to close significantly. 

What do the experts say?

FIBA women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen: The ability of Cukurova Basketbol Mersin to make major new signings probably tips it in their favor on top of the Mabrey factor, but chemistry is not guaranteed and Zaragoza have a special player in Fiebich and great defense to rely on. Prediction: Cukurova Basketball Mersin

FIBA commentator and Basket Landes assistant coach Shona Thorburn:
These transfer moves make them favourites to advance and let's not forget the MVP season Mabrey is having. But the surprise team of Zaragoza have nothing to lose and we have seen them beat big teams all season long! Prediction: Cukurova Basketball Mersin

FIBA commentator Mark Mills:
This hinges on whether Cukurova can make the games high-scoring and fast-paced, with Copper and Mavunga maybe tilting the balance in their favor, but success depends on their ability to hit the ground running. Prediction: Cukurova Basketball Mersin

Fenerbahce Alagoz Holding vs Perfumerias Avenida

Fenerbahce are where they expected to be and have so many different game-winners, including those who recently made the All-Star Five lineups at the respective FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments 2024 such as Yvonne Anderson, Napheesa Collier and Emma Meeseman who was also the MVP in Antwerp. 

Avenida are big underdogs but at least have form and what will be their usual partisan home crowd in Salamanca in their favor. They have the often underrated aspect of momentum behind them, having won three in a  row at the end of the Regular Season. But can they really spring a surprise and take down the defending champions?

Key Matchup: Meesseman lives for this time of the campaign. Having shone with the Belgian Cats, she will relish chasing another EuroLeague Women title. In the running for consecutive MVP titles, she's still the go-to baller. Somehow trying to defend her and diluting her all-around influence will be either Laura Gil or Sika Kone. How successful they are will go a long way to deciding if Avenida can get close. 

'X-Factor': While the battle of the 'bigs' might be the most interesting to watch, can Avenida dictate in the backcourt? They average a modest 14 turnovers per game and can't afford for this to go skywards as they will get punished by Fenerbahce. Also linked to the Avenida guards is that if they want to stay competitive, someone has to find the hot-hand.  None of them average double digits and someone needs to have a big scoring night - or two. 

Stats Don't Lie: Avenida have an excellent  25.6 bench points compared to less than 20 for their opponents. However, there's a big difference in rebounding which is not in their favor. It's the same with Fenerbahce's ruthless 22.7 points from turnovers (compared to 13.4) and also the closely linked fast-break points of 18.2 (compared to 5.6).

What do the experts say?

FIBA women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen: A win for Avenida is not out of the question at home, but winning in Istanbul looks a tough ask as nobody's managed  it it all season with Fenerbahce being too good and too deep. Prediction: Fenerbahce

FIBA commentator and Basket Landes assistant coach Shona Thorburn:
Avenida arguably played their best month of basketball in January and my pick for MVP of January was Laura Gil. But Fenerbahce just have too many offensive weapons and I can't see Avenida stopping Meesseman, Collier, Anderson, McBride and others. Prediction: Fenerbahce

FIBA commentator Mark Mills: 
Fenerbahce  have an all-star roster filled with world-class talent in pretty much every spot and look even better than last season.  So Avenida might be able to push the series all the way to game three, but but Fenerbahce will have too much. Prediction: Fenerbahce