FIBA: EuroLeague Women MVP candidates Thomas, Mavunga meet again

EuroLeague Women MVP candidates Alyssa Thomas and Stephanie Mavunga will meet as ZVVZ USK Praha (7-2) clashes with BC Polkowice (7-2) for the second time in group play. It will be just one of the week’s eight games spread out across Wednesday, Jan. 25 and Thursday, Jan. 26.

According to a FIBA ​​panel of experts, Thomas and Mavunga currently rank No. 3 and no. 2, respectively, in the EuroLeague Women MVP racewith Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding’s (8-2) Emma Meesseman leading the pack. Thomas Boasts an impressive all-around stat line, averaging 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists and three steals per game. mavungameanwhile, leads the competition in rebounding (13.1 per game) to go along with 16.1 points and two blocks per game.

It should go without saying that, while Thomas and Mavunga have been among the most productive players in EuroLeague Women, their teams’ records will factor into things heavily when it comes time to determine the competition’s MVP. Thomas is joined in Praha’s frontcourt by Connecticut Sun teammate Briona Jones, who missed the early portion of this season’s group play phase but has since picked up where she left off in the WNBA, averaging 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. For Polkowice, Mavunga is flanked by guard Erica Wheeler, who led her team in scoring last week with 30 points.

Elsewhere in the competition, Sopron Basket (7-3) will take on Spar Girona (6-4) in a game with a tremendous amount of defensive talent, while an impressive young DVTK HUN-Therm (6-4) team will aim for another upset against star-studded CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (6-4). All games will be streamed live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel.


Wednesday, January 25

Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (8-2) vs. Virtus Segafredo Bologna (3-7)

When: 11 am ET

Where: Metro Energy Sports Hall, Istanbul

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Breanna Stewart, Satou Sabally, Emma Meesseman, Kayla McBride, Alina Iagupova, Kiah Stokes (Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding); Cheyenne Parker, Iliana Rupert, Cecilia Zandalasini, Kitija Laksa (Virtus Segafredo Bologna)

Matchup details: Fenerbahçe has been downright machine-like since adding Stewart and Sabally to its roster, winning its last three games by an average of nearly 35 points, and is now averaging 85.8 points per contest. Bologna should, in theory, also have plenty of offensive firepower, but hasn’t put it together consistently; the Italian club got a key win last week over Polkowice, but any momentum established in that game will likely be snuffed out against the Group A-leading Fenerbahçe.

Olympiacos SFP (0-10) vs. Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (3-7)

When: 11:30 am ET

Where: Peace and Friendship Stadium

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Megan Gustafson, Kylee Shook (Olympiacos SFP); Victoria Vivians, Ruthy Hebard, Cyesha Goree, Sydney Wallace (Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd)

Matchup details: Is this Olympiacós’ best chance at winning its first game? Szekszárd may have the better record, but has been unimpressive lately, having lost four consecutive games. These are the two worst defenses in EuroLeague Women (Szekszárd allows 82.3 points per game and Olympiacós allows 81.1), so this will likely be a high-scoring game. Back in Week 4, Szekszárd defeated Olympiacós by forcing 19 turnovers; look for the Greek club to take better care of the basketball this time around and for Gustafson (competition-high 23 points per game) to continue putting up big scoring numbers.

Sopron Basket (7-3) vs Spar Girona (6-4)

When: 12pm ET

Where: Novomatic Arena, Sopron

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Ezi Magbegor, Yvonne Turner, Jelena Brooks, Olivia Epoupa (Sopron Basket); Brittney Sykes, Rebekah Gardner, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona)

Matchup details: After a surprise overtime loss to fellow Hungarian club DVTK HUN-Therm, Sopron bolstered its backcourt by adding Olivia Epoupa, a veteran of the competition who most recently played a handful of games with Fenerbahçe, averaging 4.1 assists and 2.6 steals. That additional defense will be helpful against Girona, a club that already struggles to manufacture efficient offense; Given the number of high-quality defensive players on both teams, as well as Sopron’s signature slow-paced brand of basketball, this will likely be a low-scoring game whose victor simply makes fewer mistakes than his opponent.

BC Polkowice (7-3) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (7-3)

When: 1pm ET

Where: City Sports Hall, Polkowice

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Stephanie Mavunga, Erica Wheeler, Artemis Spanou, Weronika Gajda (BC Polkowice); Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Maria Conde, Temi Fagbenle, Valeriane Vukosavljević (ZVVZ USK Praha)

Matchup details: When these clubs last met in Week 4, they delivered one of the most exciting, back-and-forth games of the EuroLeague Women season, ultimately ending in a 3-point Polkowice win. Jones didn’t play for Praha in that game, though, while Wheeler had yet to join Polkowice; both are needle-moving acquisitions, so we’ll see which player is more impactful for their respective team in this big rematch. Praha and Polkowice rank no. 1 and no. 2 in the competition in rebounds per game, respectively, and while Praha has the edge in scoring (80.5 points per game to 74.9), Polkowice has been far more effective from 3 point rangemaking 9.4 long balls per game to Praha’s 4.9.

Beretta Famila Schio (7-3) vs. Basket Landes (2-8)

When: 1:30pm ET

Where: Palazzetto Livio Romare

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Rhyne Howard, Marina Mabrey, Amanda Zahui B., Astou Ndour-Fall, Kim Mestdagh (Beretta Famila Schio); Marine Fauthoux, Regan Magarity, Celine Dumerc (Basket Landes)

Matchup details: We’re at a point in the EuroLeague Women season when the contenders have become apparent. Simply put, Schio is one of them and Landes isn’t. Schio ranks just behind Avenida for Group B’s best offense (71.8 points per game) and has the high-end talent needed to make a run in the EuroLeague Women playoffs, and the Italian club is currently tied with Sopron for the group’s best record, so it will likely get an opportunity to make that run in a few weeks. Landes, on the other hand, has been downright bad on offense (59.7 points per game), and neither of its two victories (Mechelen and Avenida) have come against the top half of Group B’s competition. This is one of the week’s bigger mismatches.

Tango Bourges Basket (5-5) vs Valencia Basket Club (7-3)

When: 2pm ET

Where: Palais des Sports du Prado, Bourges

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket); Lauren Cox, Marie Gülich, Raquel Carrera, Leticia Romero, Alba Torrens (Valencia Basket Club)

Matchup details: Of the top four teams in Group A, Valencia seems to be getting the least amount of fanfare, but it’s the only club in the competition to be shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range and ranks second in the competition in steals per game (10.9). That two-way efficiency will be put to the test against Bourges, which gave Valencia a close game back in weeks 4 but was ultimately unable to seal the deal. Bourges, too, is adept at forcing turnovers, so ball security will be of the utmost importance for both clubs in this one.

Thursday, January 26

DVTK HUN-Therm (6-4) vs. CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (6-4)

When: 12:10pm ET

Where: DVTK Arena, Miskolc

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Arella Guirantes, Cheridene Green (DVTK HUN-Therm); Chelsea Gray, DeWanna Bonner, Tiffany Hayes, Elizabeth Williams (CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld)

Matchup details: With a thrill upset of Sopron the club’s fourth-straight victory, DVTK is officially one of the hottest teams in EuroLeague Women — something not many fans would have seen coming a couple of months ago. DVTK is faced with a similar foe this week in that Mersin clearly has the upper hand in experience and high-end talent. Can the Hungarian giant-slayers do it again this week? Mersin won handy the last time the two clubs met, but DVTK has momentum and confidence on its side now, with Guirantes and Green turning into two of the competition’s better young players as the season goes on.

Kangoeroes Mechelen (1-9) vs. Perfumerias Avenida (5-5)

When: 2:30pm ET

Where: Sporthal De Schalk, Willebroek

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live streaming

Notable players: Morgan Bertsch, Lisa Berkani, Ziomara Morrison (Kangoeroes Mechelen); Bridget Carleton, Michaela Onyenwere, Maite Cazorla (Perfumerias Avenida)

Matchup details: Avenida’s free fall continues, having now dropped four-straight games after a loess to Schio and looking less and less like the club that started group play with a 5-1 record. Making matters worse, Serbian forward Aleksandra Crvendakić, who was averaging 10.6 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game, has left avenue for a different club. All of that, of course, still looks tame in comparison to how Mechelen (seven-straight losses) has fared; on paper, Avenida still outclasses Mechelen despite its numerous recent setbacks, and simply must win this game if it’s going to stay in the EuroLeague Women playoff race.

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