11 October, 2016
16 April, 2017
3 Ayse Cora (Fenerbahce), 17 Sandrine Gruda (Fenerbahce), 14 Jantel Lavender (Fenerbahce) (Photo: Atilla Sertbakan)
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EuroLeague Women Review: Week 2

MUNICH (EuroLeague Women 2017) - Our women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen reflects on the second week of EuroLeague Women 2017 action.

There's only one place to start this week and that is with Laia Palau. The Spanish playmaker cemented herself a place in EuroLeague Women history when competing for ZVVZ USK Prague against Wisla Can-Pack as she became the first player in the history of the competition to hand out a jaw-dropping 1,000 assists. Words are almost beyond me to put the scale of this achievement into context. Just saying that number aloud sums it up. Yes, one thousand assists. I will have to remember to ask her for her top three when I see her next. I am joking of course because it’s tough to get your head around having given so much to those people who converted.

I guess Laia herself will remember a few of her colleagues who were passed the rock and then didn't convert as well! She's a real winner and it's no coincidence that the best times for the likes of ZVVZ USK Prague, CCC Polkowice [and Ros Casares going further back] came with her pulling the strings. What a legend.

This week’s review is dripping in some of the best talent on the planet and what about a certain WNBA MVP waltzing back into EuroLeague Women? What a sight it was to see Nnemkadi Ogwumike [another of my big faves] playing for the first time under Lucas Mondelo at Dynamo Kursk as she returned to Russia and posted a breathtaking 21 points and 19 boards in her team’s 73-67 success against Mersin.

#dynamokursk #basketball #euroleague #fiba #nnemkadiogwumike Welcome home)

A photo posted by erindenis (@erindenis) on

Of course the forward played alongside Palau at CCC Polkowice a few years ago during her rookie season as they made the Final Eight and it was fitting they both made headlines this week. Ogwumike continues to look unstoppable and underlines the top talent that this competition continues to benefit from. With Ogwumike on board, Dynamo Kursk have the foundation to be crowned champions.

On the topic of WNBA champions dropping back into the competition and potential 2017 champions, look no further than Fenerbahce as Sandrine Gruda enjoyed a huge debut game in the competition for her new club in the win against BLMA. I also thought it was interesting that her Los Angeles Sparks team-mate Jantel Lavender was back, something which gives Fenerbahce that familiar feel of that potent frontcourt rotation which has been their hallmark of recent years. I was impressed with Shekinna Stricklen on the wing too, and just thinking about the long-term possibilities post-season with some of these match-ups is exciting and we’re only in Week 2.

Team Performance of the Week: I am giving this one to Tango Bourges Basket who were in real trouble in front of their own fans at Le Prado as they fell 57-46 behind heading into the final quarter against CCC Polkowice.

Humeur matinale 😄. #AllezTango #Bourges #Basketball #1NouveauSouffle #EuroleagueWomen

A photo posted by BourgesBasket (@bourgesbasket) on

But perhaps sensing the vulnerabilities of the visitors in the wake of their opening week’s overtime loss to Sopron, Bourges dug themselves out of a hole with incredible defence which harvested a 19-3 final period and a 65-60 success. You simply have to win those kind of games if you want to make the top eight.

Individual Performance of the Week: I have to hand it to Ogwumike for that terrific double-double against Mersin and with honourable mentions to Sonja Petrovic who had a great stat-line for Prague against Wisla, with Gruda also catching the eye for that debut. Interestingly, all three achieved the exact same efficiency valuation!

Unsung Hero: As Petrovic lit it up and her fellow Spanish guard and friend Palau made history, a very nice and typically smart cameo of 11 points [63% from the floor], four rebounds, three assists and a steal was posted by ZVVZ USK Prague’s Marta Xargay.

It was a strange week to reflect on, since many of my thoughts turned to those who actually lost games and I have some positive comments for many clubs. Mersin have a lot of talent, but their capitulation at Galatasaray last weekend and then going behind by 20 points at Dynamo Kursk had me seriously worried for head coach, Ozlem Sencan.

So credit for the way the play-caller and her team responded with a great rescue mission after the break which just fell short, but unexpectedly pushed Kursk hard.

Also, it's not often you can praise a team after they lost by 10 to 20 points, but I really do think that credit is due to Hungarian duo CMB Cargo Uni Gyor and Uniqa Sopron, who may have lost at Schio and Ekaterinburg respectively, but were both competitive and in the case of the latter, highly entertaining to watch.

The 92 points scored by Perfumerias Avenida against Hatay was the highest by any team so far - helped by a season-high 26 assists and an eye-watering 29 turnoves from the visitors. In the same game and sometimes lost because of her fine offensive capabilities, Jelena Milovanovic became the first player to snap up six steals in a game this season.

You can follow Paul @basketmedia365