With Arike Ogunbowale, Dynamo Kursk’s Feb. 18 Win, Nine USA National Team Athletes into EuroLeague Quarterfinals
EuroLeague Action Continues: Hub 2 Recap (updated)
NOTE: This story, originally published on Jan. 25, 2021, has been updated to reflect the final EuroLeague qualifying game that was postponed due to the COVID-19 virus and rescheduled for Feb. 18, 2021.
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 year saw the league play its schedule with a slightly different format.
Instead of playing a home and away, two-game series between teams in each group, the 16-team field was divided into four groups of four teams each, and each group played in two round-robin ‘hubs.’ The first took place early December and the second was almost concluded by Jan. 25.Due to COVID-19, the final two games in Group A first-round action were rescheduled for Feb. 16 and Feb. 18. The Feb. 18 game was an important one for Arike Ogunbowle’s Russian club, Dynamo Kursk (3-3), which clinched its quarterfinals berth with a commanding 84-46 victory over Izmit Belediyespor.
There are nine current USA Basketball Women’s National Team members donning the colors of EuroLeague teams this season, and all of them have advanced to the EuroLeague quarterfinals that are set to be played March 17 and 19 (more on that below).
- Dynamo Kursk (RUS): 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)
- Spar Girona (ESP): Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks)
- UMMC Ekaterinburg (RUS): Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)
- Galatasaray (TUR): Angel McCoughtry (Las Vegas Aces)
Quarterfinal Round Matchups
The quarterfinal games will be played in a two-game, home and away series on March 17 and 19. If the games are split, the winner of the aggregate score from both games advances to the April 16 semifinals and the finals will be played April 18.
USA National Team members are represented in each of the first three matchups:
- Spar Girona vs. Perfumerias Avenida
- Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce
- Dynamo Kursk vs. UMMC Ekaterinburg
- LDLC Asvel Feminin vs. Sopron Basket
The winners of Game Nos. 1 and 4 will meet in one semifinal, and the winners of Game Nos. 2 and 3 will play in the other semifinal.
Just the Stats
Four of the USA National Team members are ranked among the top 10 in the league in scoring, including McBride’s league-leading 19.5 ppg. Samuelson ranks second (18.8 ppg.), Hayes is sixth (16.8 ppg.) and Ogunbowale is eighth (16.5 ppg.).
Hayes, who is shooting 61.4% from the field overall, ranks second for field goal percentage and is fourth for 2-point field goal percentage with a 65.0% accuracy from inside the line. Samuelson ranks sixth for 2-point accuracy (60.9%), while Stewart is 11th (58.3%). Hayes also is among the top 10 3-point shooters, ranking fifth after shooting 52.9% from beyond the arc.
Among free throw shooters, McBride owns the No. 1 spot after hitting all 20 of her attempts from the line this season.
The quick-handed McCoughtry is averaging a league-high 2.5 spg.
In single games, Samuelson and Ogunbowale each had season-highs of 29 points, which ties as the third-best output of the season. McBride’s 28 points tied at fifth and Samuelson’s 27 against Kursk is tied at ninth.
GROUP A GAMES
Dynamo Kursk (3-3): Ogunbowale
Kursk’s 84-56 victory against Izmit Belediyespor was vital in its advancement to the quarterfinals. After holding a 35-28 edge at halftime, Kursk pushed its lead to double digits, 42-32, in the first 2:24 of the third quarter. Kursk allowed Izmit to score just two more points over the remainder of the period and held a 58-34 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Ogunbowale scored a team second-best 14 points, while adding four rebounds and a team-best six assists.
Ogunbowale helped Kursk to a 2-1 record on the week as Kursk downed Nadezhda 86-62 on Jan. 19, edged Izmit 65-61 on Jan. 21 and fell to Avenida 79-70 on Jan. 22. While the stats are currently unavailable for the game against Izmit, she compiled 28 points over the other two contests.
Perfumerias Avenida (6-0): Tiffany Hayes and Katie Lou Samuelson
Hayes and Samuelson aided Perfumerias Avenida to a perfect 6-0 slate to advance to the quarterfinals. Over the past week, Avenida sandwiched a pair of victories over Izmit, 101-80 on Jan. 19 and 98-72 on Jan. 25, with a breezy 93-38 win over Nadzhda on Jan. 21 and a much tighter 79-70 win over Kursk on Friday.
Overall, Samuelson led her side by averaging 22.3 ppg. to go with 4.5 rpg. Additionally, Samuelson went 10-of-10 from the line in the team’s victory over Kursk. Meanwhile, Hayes averaged 14.0 points and 4.3 rebounds over the course of the week.
The duo combines as Avenida’s top scoring threat with Samuelson averaging 18.8 ppg. and Hayes topping out at 16.8 ppg.
GROUP B GAMES
Fenerbahce (5-1): McBride and Jasmine Thomas
Despite a nail-biter in its final game of the week, Fener went 3-0 on the week, beginning with a 99-70 victory over ZVVZ USK Praha on Jan. 19, followed by a 88-57 win over VBW Gdynia on Jan. 21, before earning a narrow 67-65 escape over Lyon.
In the closest game of the week, McBride, who finished with 15 points, drew a foul with 21 seconds on the clock and swished in both of her attempts from the line to knot the game at 65-all. Her teammate Alina Iagupova notched a steal and drove in for a layup with five seconds remaining Fener took the win.
Against Praha, McBride netted 26 points and scored 12 against Gdynia. Thomas scored 14 points over the three games.
GROUP C GAMES
Spar Girona (3-3): Gray
By virtue of a tiebreaker with Beretta Famila Schio (3-3), Gray and Spar Girona made it through to the next round. However, Girona did not fare well over the week, dropping a 90-83 contest against UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 21 and being edged by Schio 77-74 on Jan. 22. The lone victory, a 30-point, 82-52 victory over TTT Riga came on Jan. 19.
In the week’s win over Riga, Gray scored 15 points (5-8 FGs, 5-6 FTs), dished out three assists and had five steals. She struggled with shooting in the two losses, however, and averaged just 7.0 ppg. on 5-of-14 from the field.
UMMC Ekaterinburg (6-0): Stewart and Griner
UMMC Ekaterinburg finished the first round of EuroLeague action with three-straight victories over the past week – earning a 74-58 win over Beretta Famila Schio on Jan. 19, then edged past Spar Girona 90-83 on Jan. 21 and capped the round with a dominating 90-41 win over TTT Riga on Jan. 22.
UMMC Ekaterinburg’s roster was bolstered over the break by the addition of Griner who, over the course of her three games back with the club, averaged 9.0 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. as Ekat finished atop Group C standings.
Ekat, winners of three of the past four EuroLeague championships (2016, 2018 and 2019) already had a stacked team prior to Griner’s arrival, which featured the reigning FIBA World Cup and WNBA Finals MVP Stewart. “Stewie” is averaging 12.3 ppg. to go with 4.8 rpg. and 2.5 apg. on a team that also includes international standouts 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meeseman, Allie Quigley, Alba Torrens, Maria Vadeeva and Courtney Vandersloot.
GROUP D GAMES
Galatasaray (3-3): McCoughtry
McCoughtry joined Galatasaray ahead of its final four games over the past week and aided the squad to a 3-1 mark and into the quarterfinals. She helped Gala to back-to-back wins over Basket Landes, 89-63 on Jan. 18 and 78-59 on Jan. 19, before splitting a pair of games against Bourges Basket. Bourges took the first game 87-80 on Jan. 21, and Gala earned the second 75-65 on Jan. 22.
McCoughtry averaged 14.5 ppg., 5.8 rpg. and 2.5 spg., including a high of 26 points in Gala’s second game over Landes.