Howard, McBride Impressive as 2021-22 EuroLeague Action Begins
The WNBA Finals are fast approaching, and many of the athletes not still competing for a championship have made their way to Europe for the start of the 2021-22 EuroLeague and EuroCup seasons. The EuroLeague tipped-off Oct. 6-7; and with qualifying contests in the books, the 48-team EuroCup is set to begin on Oct. 13.
In addition to Olympic gold medalists Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart expected to return to EuroLeague action this season with UMMC Ekaterinburg, their 2020 Olympic teammate Ariel Atkins signed to play with BC Prometey in Ukraine. Among the additional athletes with USA Basketball ties featured among the EuroLeague rosters are: Natasha Howard (Dynamo Kursk), Brionna Jones (ZVVZ Prague), Kayla McBride (Fenerbahce), Arike Ogunbowale (Dynamo Kursk), Michaela Onyenwere (Spar Girona) and Katie Lou Samuelson (Perfumerias Avenida); while N’dea Jones (WBC Enisey) and Kelsey Mitchell (Neve David Ramla) are expected to play in the EuroCup.
Top U.S. Performers
The top two U.S. performers in the first week of EuroLeague action featured 2016 Select Team member Howard and longtime USA Basketball athlete McBride. Howard tallied a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds in aiding Dynamo Kursk to victory and McBride, who went 3-of-5 from 3-point and finished with 21 points, helped lead Fenerbahce to victory against crosstown rival Galatasaray in Istanbul.
2021-22 EuroLeague Regular Season Standings
|Group A||W-L||Group B||W-L|
|BLMA||1-0||Beretta Famila Schio||1-0|
|Perfumerias Avenida||1-0||Dynamo Kursk||1-0|
|UMMC Ekaterinburg||1-0||Fenerbahce Safiport||1-0|
|Umana Reyer||1-0||Sopron Basket||1-0|
|MBA Moscow||0-1||Basket Landes||0-1|
|ZVVZ USK Prague||0-1||Galatasaray||0-1|
|KSC Szekszard||0-1||Spar Girona||0-1|
|TTT Riga||0-1||VBW Arka Gdynia||0-1|
Dynamo Kursk 86, VBW Arka Gdynia 76
In addition to her double-double, which came from 11-of-15 shooting from the field, Howard dished out five assists in helping Dynamo Kursk to an 86-76 victory over VBW Arka Gdynia. Megan Gustafson, the consensus 2019 NCAA National Player of the Year out of Iowa who played 11 games for the Washington Mystics in 2021, poured in 26 points, also on 11-of-15 from the field, for Gdynia.
UMMC Ekaterinburg 71, TTT Riga 56
Despite not having its expected full complement of athletes, which should eventually include two-time Olympic gold medalists Griner and Stewart, plus two more WNBA All-Stars from the Chicago Sky in Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot, the reigning EuroLeague champion UMMC Ekaterinburg did not falter and earned a 71-56 victory over TTT Riga. Ekat was paced to the win by Maria Vadeeva’s 16 points, while Riga received 14 points from Vanesa Jasa.
Fenerbahce Safiport 89, Galatasaray 69
In a clash of Istanbul-based titans, Fenerbahce Safiport powered out a 20-point 89-69 win over Galatasaray. In addition to McBride’s 21 points, Fener was aided to victory by 18 points and 11 caroms from Elizabeth Williams. Gala’s Tina Jrajisnik scored 23 points in the loss.
Sopron Basket 68, Spar Girona 63
A 23-14 second quarter helped Sopron Basket outlast Spar Girona 68-63 as Aliz Varga closed out with a team-high 14 points and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Williams finished with 11 for Sopron. Girona, which is awaiting the arrival of Onyenwere, received 17 points in the loss from 2019 Red Bull USA Basketball 3x3 Nationals participant Rebekah Gardner and 15 points from 2014 USA U17 bronze medalist Kennedy Burke.
BLMA 75, ZVVZ USK Prague 74
With the game tied and four seconds remaining, French Olympian Olivia Epoupa, who finished with a team-high 22 points, hit one of two free throws to give BLMA a 75-74 opening victory over ZVVZ USK Prague. Playing on its home court, BLMA received 14 points from 2021 USA 3x3 Women’s Series Team member Haley Peters. Prague, which is still awaiting the arrival of Jones, saw Spanish forward Maria Conde score a game-high 23 points.
Beretta Famila Schio 96, Basket Landes 56
Host Beretta Famila Schio had a strong first quarter and built its lead throughout to the 96-56 victory over Basket Landes. Schio had a balanced attack that featured six of nine players in double figures for scoring, while Landes was paced by longtime French National Team player Celine Dumerc’s 14 points. Both teams are expected to have top young WNBA players Charlie Collier (Schio) and Sophie Cunningham (Landes) later in the season.
Perfumerias Avenida 70, MBA Moscow 64
Perfurmerias Avenida, which will get a boost from the addition of Katie Lou Samuelson later this year, rode a 27-19 first quarter to an eventual 70-64 victory over MBA Moscow. Avenida was led by Netherland’s Emese Hof’s 15 points. Russian Nina Glonti scored 16 points for the Moscow club, which is new to the EuroLeague after competing the past five seasons in the EuroCup.
USA Basketball will produce weekly updates on the EuroLeague, key EuroCup contests and other pertinent international action that features past, current and future USA Women's National Team athletes. Check back every Thursday evening for the latest weekly recap!