Seven USA National Team Members Currently in the Hunt for 2021 EuroLeague Title
EuroLeague Action has Begun: Hub 1 Recap
After the halting and eventual cancellation of the EuroLeague last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left the league without a champion for the first time in its 62-year history, this week saw the launching of the 2020-21 season with a slightly different format.
Instead of playing a home and away, two-game series between teams in each group, the 16-team field has been divided into four groups of four teams each, and each group will play two round-robin ‘hubs.’ The first took place this week and the second will be held Jan. 19-22.
The seven current USA Basketball Women’s National Team members competing in the EuroLeague are:
- Dynamo Kursk (RUS): Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings)
- Perfumerias Avenida (ESP): Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream), Katie Lou Samuelson (Dallas Wings)
- Fenerbahce (TUR): Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces), Jasmine Thomas (Connecticut Sun)
- Girona (ESP): Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks)
- UMMC Ekaterinburg (RUS): Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)
Just the Stats, Jack: At the end of the week, the top three scorers in the EuroLeague are WNT members. Ogunbowale’s 23.0 points per game tops the list, while Hayes’ 22.5 ppg. and McBride’s 21.3 ppg. are close behind. Ogunbowale didn’t just shoot lights-out in her two games, she dished out 5.5 assists a game, good for sixth (tie) among passers; and Stewart’s 1.3 blocks per game is good for fourth in the league.
Perfection: Three of the five players who are perfect from the line so far in EuroLeague play are members of the WNT. Stewart leads the pack with a perfect 14-of-14 from the line, McBride lists second at 13-of-13 and Ogunbowale is tied at third with her perfect 10 from the stripe.
Sharp-Shooters: Stewart, who ranks 12th for field goal percentage at 53.6% (15-28 FGs), jumps to No. 8 when only factoring in 2-pointers. She’s draining 61.9% (13-21 2pt FGs) inside the arc, while Hayes netted 3s at a clip of 62.5% (5-8 3pt FGs) in her two games, which is tied for third among league leaders.
GROUP A GAMES
Dynamo Kursk (0-2): Arike Ogunbowale
Dec. 1 – Ogunbowale opened her 2020-21 EuroLeague campaign with a game-high 29-point outburst in a 77-74 loss to Nadezhda. She shot 9-of-24 from the field, 3-of-9 from 3-point, was a perfect 8-of-8 from the line and had an efficiency rating of +17.
Dec. 2 – Kursk’s second game, scheduled against Izmit Belediyespor (TUR), was postponed after the Turkish club was unable to participate in the first hub due to COVID-19-related issues.
Dec. 4 – Ogunbowale again led her squad in scoring with 17 points, while dishing out eight assists, but it wasn’t enough as Kursk dropped to 0-2 with a 89-74 loss to Hayes, Samuelson and Perfumerias Avenida.
Perfumerias Avenida (2-0): Tiffany Hayes and Katie Lou Samuelson
Dec. 1 – Avenida’s first game, scheduled against Izmit Belediyespor (TUR), was postponed after the Turkish club was unable to participate in the first hub due to COVID-19-related issues.
Dec. 2 – Behind a game-high 21 points from Hayes and eight from Samuelson, Perfumerias Avenida ran roughshod over Nadezhda, 70-42. Samuelson won the jump ball, and seven seconds later Hayes put up a jumper and Avenida, which was ahead 21-11 at the end of the first quarter and 43-24 at the midway break, never trailed in the dominating victory. Hayes also had five rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Samuelson added six boards.
Dec. 4 – Hayes scored a game-high 24 points and Samuelson notched 16 points to help their squad to a 2-0 mark in the first ‘hub’ with a 89-74 victory over winless Dynamo Kursk. Notable: Between the two teams, the game’s top three scorers were the three USA National Team members.
GROUP B GAMES
Fenerbahce (2-1): Kayla McBride and Jasmine Thomas
Dec. 1 – Thomas and McBride, who combined for nine assists, finished as their team’s second- and third-leading scorers with 19 and 14 points as Fener opened the season by powering past ZVVZ USK Praha in a come-from-behind 77-70 victory. Trailing 43-32 at halftime, Fener turned the tide in the third quarter to pull to within five points, 62-57, with 10 minutes remaining. Fener drew even at 66-all before closing out the contest on an 11-6 run to claim victory.
Dec. 3 – McBride notched a team second-best 22 points to go with three rebounds, three assists and two steals to help Fener to an 80-70 victory over VBW Arka Gdynia. In a tight contest, the teams entered the fourth quarter knotted at 56-all. With a little more than four minutes remaining, the score was tied again, 66-66. However, a McBride jumper at 3:49 sparked a 14-4 game-ending run for the 80-70 victory.
Dec. 4 – Despite a 28-point outburst from McBride on 9-of-18 from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the line, Fenerbahce was upended by LDLC ASVEL, which took a 10-point lead after the first quarter, expanded it to 51-37 at the half. Fener was unable to recover, falling 84-70 and dropped to 2-1.
GROUP C GAMES
Girona (2-1): Chelsea Gray
Oct. 28 (Play-In Game) – Gray shot 4-of-8 and finished with nine points to help her squad qualify for the 2020-21 EuroLeague competition. Girona defeated ACS Sepsi (ROU) 76-54 in a single-game knockout to advance into Group C.
Dec. 1 – Gray contributed eight points, three boards and five assists in helping Girona edge TTT Riga 81-79 in the team’s EuroLeague opener. After a Riga layup pulled the Latvian squad to 80-79, Gray was immediately fouled. With 12 seconds remaining, she made one of her two attempts from the line to push the lead to 81-79. A last-second 3-point attempt by Riga was off the mark, and Girona came away with the win.
Dec. 3 – Gray, who dished out three assists and had a pair of steals, accounted for nine points in a 94-67 loss to a stacked UMMC Ekaterinburg squad that features six current WNBA standouts, including USA National Team teammate Stewart.
Dec. 4 – In the final game of the first series, Gray scored eight points and added three rebounds and four assists in a narrow 85-81 win over Beretta Famila Schio to help up Girona’s record to 2-1. Gray played just under 19 minutes after she picked up her fourth foul with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter and was whistled for her fifth in the fourth quarter.
UMMC Ekaterinburg (3-0): Breanna Stewart
Dec. 1 – Stewart contributed eight points, six boards, four assists, three steals and a pair of blocked shots in her first game for Ekaterinburgh since injuring her Achilles tendon during the 2019 EuroLeague Final Four. She helped Ekat, which had a well-balanced scoring effort with five posting double digits for points, to an 83-61 win over Beretta Famila Schio.
Dec. 3 – Stewart upped her scoring to 16 points in Ekat’s second outing, a 94-67 victory over Gray’s Spar Girona squad. Stewart hit 7-of-7 from the line and also contributed five rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Holding a two-point lead, 21-19, after the first quarter, Ekat pushed its lead to 40-30 at halftime and cruised through the second half for the win.
Dec. 4 – With a game-high 22 points, five boards and two assists, Stewart helped lead Ekat to a perfect week as the team ran past TTT Riga 104-71. She had 10 points in the first quarter that closed with the Russian squad on top 29-15. From there, Ekat never looked back en route to its third win in as many games.