FIBA: Meesseman hopes to give Fenerbahçe a lift in EuroLeague Women

Turkish club Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding, which was widely expected to compete for a EuroLeague Women championship entering the 2022-23 season, got off to a slow start in group play, but things are now starting to look up. The Turkish club won its first game of the season last week, scoring nearly 100 points against Greek club Olympiacós SFP, and welcomed Belgian forward Emma Meesseman to its lineup shortly after that.

Meesseman was one of several high-profile signings Fenerbahçe made prior to the 2022-23 EuroLeague Women season. She’ll join a roster featuring Natasha Howard, Kayla McBride and Alina Iagupova (with Breanna Stewart and Satou Sabally to join the team at a later date) and should give it a measurable boost, particularly defensively; Fenerbahçe gave up 89 points to Olympiacós in regulation last week and 103 to Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd in double overtime in Week 2.

Fenerbahçe isn’t the only Turkish club that loaded up for this season. CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld, which competed in EuroCup Women in 2021-22, got a sterling performance from Jonquel Jones last week as the former WNBA MVP dropped 24 points and 19 rebounds in a win over French club Basket Landes. Jones is flanked by Tiffany Hayes and DeWanna Bonner, with Chelsea Gray set to join them later on.

Watching WNBA stars join forces on other teams is just one of the many reasons to follow EuroLeague Women. You can catch Meesseman, Howard, McBride and Jones, along with plenty of other big-name players, live and for free on FIBA’s EuroLeague Women YouTube channel. Here’s what (and who) to watch for in Week 4 of the competition:


Tuesday, November 15

Atomerőmű KSC Szekszárd (1-2) vs. Olympiacos SFP (0-3)

When: 12 pm ET

Where: Szekszárdi Városi Sportcsarnok, Szekszárd

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: Olympiacós is off to a poor start to group play, but Gustafson’s offense certainly isn’t part of the problem. A 30-point effort last week raised her scoring average to 28 per game, which currently leads EuroLeague Women by a comfortable margin. How Szekszárd’s frontcourt duo of Hebard and Goree rose to the challenge of Gustafson could determine the winner of the game; they struggled in Szekszárd’s Week 3 loss to Valencia, shooting a combined 8-of-22 from the field. Vivians, meanwhile, continues to lead Szekszárd in scoring (22 points per game).

ZVVZ USK Praha (3-0) vs. BC Polkowice (2-1)

When: 1 pm ET

Where: Královka Arena, Prague

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Maria Conde (ZVVZ USK Praha); Stephanie Mavunga, Yvonne Turner (BC Polkowice)

Matchup details: For all the preseason hubbub surrounding Fenerbahçe and Mersin, Praha has looked like arguably the most dominant team in EuroLeague Women so far — and that’s without Jones, who has yet to suit up. Thomas is, per usual, the club’s engine, averaging 21.7 points, 11.3 rebounds. 7.7 assists and 3.7 steals per game. If Polkowice is to pull off an upset, rebounding will need to be a factor; the Polish club is currently leading EuroLeague Women in rebounds per game (47.3) while Praha ranks 10th (40.3). If Jones still can’t play for Praha, Mavunga (14.7 rebounds per game) could be in for a big day.

Basket Landes (0-3) vs. Beretta Family Schio (2-1)

When: 1:30 pm ET

Where: Espace François-Mitterand, Mont-de-Marsan

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: Landes is one of two winless teams (Olympiacós SFP the other) remaining in EuroLeague Women, and its cumulative point differential of -36 is the worst in the competition. The French club’s offense (57 points per game) has sputtered, largely due to a 28.6 percent 3-point shot accuracy. Things won’t get any easier against Schio, which is coming off a convincing win over Avenida in which the Italian club held its opponent to 32.3 percent shooting from the field.

Valencia Basket Club (2-1) vs. Tango Bourges Basket (2-1)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Fuente de San Luis, Valencia

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Lauren Cox, Marie Gülich (Valencia Basket Club); Yvonne Anderson, Kayla Alexander (Tango Bourges Basket)

Matchup details: Bourges hasn’t been overly impressive statistically — the French club is averaging 67 points per game and shooting below 40 percent from the floor — but FIBA ​​still ranked it No. 3 in its latest power rankings. Perhaps last week’s valiant effort against Praha had something to do with it? This week, look for Alexander (two consecutive double-doubles) to give Cox (60.9 percent shooting) a harder time than she’s had so far in the competition.

Virtus Segafredo Bologna (1-2) vs. Fenerbahçe Alagöz Holding (1-2)

When: 2:30 pm ET

Where: PalaDozza, Bologna

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

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

Matchup details: Both Fenerbahçe and Bologna got into the win column last week after slow starts to group play, setting the stage for a matchup between two clubs that are undoubtedly better than their records suggest. The size of Parker and Rupert could give Fenerbahçe’s frontcourt problems, even with Meesseman in the fold; Stokes had been playing 28.8 minutes per game prior to Meesseman’s arrival, and while that’s likely to decrease now, she’ll likely still have a spot in the team’s rotation for defensive purposes. Bologna is currently shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range, although that has been mitigated by more turnovers (18.3) than assists (17.3).

Perfumerias Avenida (2-1) vs. Kangoeroes Mechelen (1-2)

When: 2 p.m. ET

Where: Pabellón Municipal Würzburg, Salamanca

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Erica McCall, Maite Cazorla (Perfumerias Avenida); Morgan Bertsch (Kangoeroes Basket)

Matchup details: Mechelen earned one of the biggest upsets of the season so far when it upset Girona last week, shooting 52.5 percent on 2-pointers and attempting 19 free throws to Girona’s four. Bertsch exemplified that efficiency, dropping 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. To do so again against Avenida would be impressive, and perhaps not completely improbable; the Spanish club struggled mightily in Week 3 against Schio, scoring just 54 points on 32.3 percent shooting from the field.

Spar Girona (2-1) vs. Sopron Basket (3-0)

When: 3 pm ET

Where: Pavelló Fontajau, Girona

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Rebekah Gardner, Crystal Bradford, Marianna Tolo, Shay Murphy (Spar Girona); Brittney Sykes, Ezi Magbegor (Sopron Basket)

Matchup details: Sopron has rightfully earned the No. 2 overall spot in FIBA’s latest power rankings, getting off to a 3-0 start in spite of significant roster turnover. The combination of Sykes and Magbegor fuels the defense the club has long been known for, and the team’s offense has been good, too, shooting 45 percent from the field. Still, its matchup against Girona is much more likely to be a defensive battle, particularly after the Spanish club was upset last week by Mechelen; Gardner and company will be hungry for a win that could have postseason seeding implications in Group B.

Wednesday, November 16

CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld (1-2) vs. DVTK HUN-Therm (1-2)

When: 11 am ET

Where: Servet Tazegül Spor Salonu, Mersin

How to watch: FIBA YouTube live stream

Notable players: Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner, Tiffany Hayes, Temi Fagbenle, Briann January (CBK Mersin Yenişehir Bld); Arella Guirantes (DVTK-Hun-Therm)

Matchup details: Jones’ monster Week 3 performance and a 53-25 advantage on the boards overshadowed another otherwise-disappointing offensive effort from Mersin, which turned the ball over 18 times against just 16 assists. Mersin certainly has the talent advantage over DVTK — which is a Guirantes buzzer-beater away from a winless record — though that hasn’t translated to an overwhelming amount of on-court success for the Turkish club to this point. We’ll see how much longer Jones will need to carry her team before the rest of the roster gets it going.

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