There’s just over two months until opening night of the 2017 WNBA season, but for now, plenty of stars are still immersed in their overseas campaigns. Let’s check in to see how things are going across the pond.
China – WCBA Finals
Beijing Great Wall – Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx)
Last fall, following the end of the 2016 WNBA season, numerous WNBA players opted to make the journey to China to play their “offseason” ball. But as we enter March, only one remains.
Sylvia Fowles and her Beijing Great Wall have been dominant all season long in their pursuit of a second straight title, and now, they are just one game from completing the repeat.
In Game 1 of the WCBA Finals, Fowles lead Beijing to a dominant 92-57 victory over Bayi, putting up 25 points on 11-14 shooting and grabbing NINE rebounds. Game 2 was more of the same, as Fowles finished a perfect 13-for-13 from the floor on her way to a 27-point, 14-rebound performance as Beijing won, 82-65.
Thursday, Fowles and company will have a chance to complete the three-game sweep and take home their second WCBA championship in a row.
Europe – EuroLeague Quarterfinals
Dynamo Kursk (1st place, Group A) vs. Bourges Basket (4th place, Group B)
Dynamo Kursk (Russia) – Anna Cruz (Minnesota Lynx), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Epiphanny Prince (New York Liberty)
Lead by 2016 WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike, WNBA All-Stars Angel McCoughtry and Ephiphanny Prince, and 2015 WNBA Champion Anna Cruz, Dynamo Kursk waltzed through the group stage with a perfect 14-0 record, winning their games by an average margin of 17.2 points. McCoughtry and Ogwumike, in particular, have been strong, with the Dream guard filling up the box score (14.6 pts, 5.5 reb, 3.4 ast, 2.1 stl), and the Sparks forward averaging a double-double (14.1 pts, 10.5 reb). With their WNBA quartet leading the way, Kursk looks to have a strong chance of capturing their first ever EuroLeague championship.
Bourges Basket (France) – Kayla Alexander (San Antonio Stars), Clarissa dos Santos (Stars)
Over in France this winter, Clarissa dos Santos and Kayla Alexander have teamed up to help Bourges Basket advance past the group stage of EuroLeague, and due to the San Antonio Stars’ recent acquisition of dos Santos, the duo will continue their partnership stateside this summer. They’ve been key for their French side, with dos Santos leading the team in both scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg), while Alexander ranking third in scoring (8.8 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.9 rpg). Up against a loaded Dynamo Kursk side in the quarterfinals though, the two forwards will have their work cut out for them.
Nadezhda (2nd place, Group B) vs. ZVVZ USK Praha (3rd place, Group A)
Nadezhda (Russia) – Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever), Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream), Amanda Zahui B. (New York Liberty)
Last year, Nadezhda made their first ever EuroLeague Final, falling to UMMC Ekaterinburg by just three points. This season, they seem determined to avenge that loss, as they easily qualified for the quarterfinals by finishing the group stage at 10-4, good enough for second place in Group B.
Leading the way for the Russian side is a trio of talented young WNBA players. Amanda Zahui B. (14.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg) and Elizabeth Williams (11 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg) are each averaging a near double-double, while Tiffany Mitchell is chipping in 9.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per night.
ZVVZ USK Praha (Czechia) – Candice Dupree (Indiana Fever), Sonja Petrovic (Phoenix Mercury), Marta Xargay (Mercury), Kia Vaughn (New York Liberty)
The Czech side, champions in 2015, are once again looking for a deep run in the EuroLeague, and with a plethora of WNBA players leading the way, it just may happen. Sonja Petrovic has been a machine, putting up 17.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, each of which were second among all players during the group stage. Kia Vaughn (11.8 ppg), Marta Xargay (11.2 ppg), and Candice Dupree (9.7 ppg) have all been solid as well, coming in second, third, and fourth in the team in scoring, respectively.
Fenerbahce (2nd place, Group A) vs. Perfumerias Avenida (3rd place, Group B)
Fenerbahce (Turkey) – Sandrine Gruda (Los Angeles Sparks), Jantel Lavender
(Sparks) Candace Parker (Sparks), Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky)
After sitting out nearly all of the European season, Candace Parker has made her way to Turkey, signing with Fenerbahce for the remainder of the EuroLeague campaign. Cruising through the group stage with an 11-3 record, which left them in second place in Group A, Fenerbahce already looked like one of competition favorites. And that was before the addition of last summer’s WNBA Finals MVP.
In Turkey, Parker will join up with her Sparks’ teammates Jantel Lavender and Sandrine Gruda, which should help with the assimilation to a new country and system. Also flying the WNBA flag for Fenerbahce is Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley, who has been leading the team with 14.6 points per game.
Perfumerias Avenida (Spain) – Erika de Souza (San Antonio Stars)
The spanish side Perfumerias Avenida punched their ticket to the knockout stage by finishing in third place in Group B with a 7-7 record. Helping to lead them against Fenerbahce, will be the San Antonio Stars’ new center, Erika de Souza. The Brazilian has averaged a very solid 8.5 points, while leading the team with 6.3 rebounds per night during the competition.
UMMC Ekaterinburg (1st place, Group B) vs. Famila Schio (4th place, Group A)
UMMC Ekaterinburg (Russia) – Evgenia Belyakova (Los Angeles Sparks), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Emma Meesseman (Washington Mystics), Diana Taurasi (Mercury), Kristi Toliver (Washington Mystics)
Last year’s EuroLeague champs, Ekaterinburg have been to three of the last four finals, and look poised to make if four of five. The group stage poised little trouble for the Russian side, as they went 13-1 to finish in first place in Group B. Lead by WNBA stars Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Emma Meesseman, Kristi Toliver, and Evgenia Belyakova, not to mention Alba Torrens, Deanna Nolan, and Sancho Lyttle, Ekaterinburg may be the most talented team in the world.
Mercury teammates Taurasi and Griner in particular have been stellar, leading the way with 17.4 and 16.6 points per game, respectively. Griner has been as dominant as always down low as well, sending a way a group-stage best 2.5 shots per game.
Famila Schio (Italy) – No WNBA players
The lone Italian side remaining in the competition, Famila Schio snuck into the knockout stage by virtue of winning a tie-breaker with the French side BLMA for the right to fourth place in Group A. Famila Schio has no WNBA players on the roster, but international women’s basketball fans may recognize the Frenchwoman Isabelle Yacoubou, who played for France during the Olympics last summer. The forward has been playing well in EuroLeague, averaging nearly a double-double with 11.8 points and 9.6 rebounds a night.