The holiday break observed by European basketball leagues serves as an unofficial cutoff between the first and second halves of the season, and is also an opportunity for changes to be made. You’ve surely already read that Sue Bird went to Russia to join Spartak Moscow Region last week, but other Storm players were trading places as well. Both Camille Little and Tanisha Wright saw their contracts with K.V. Imperial AEL come to an end.
Wright has already landed in a new destination, signing yesterday with Lotos Gdynia in Poland, where she will battle Storm teammate Janell Burse. Lotos is currently second in the league at 13-2, a record built up with departed Alana Beard and Shameka Christon. Burse’s Wisla Can-Pack Krakow squad sits fourth at 10-5 despite being tied for the best record in Euroleague play at 8-0. Wright will also be joining Bird and Burse in the Euroleague, where Lotos Gdynia is tied for fourth in Group D at 2-6. Lotos is schedule to face Bird and Spartak on Jan. 20 in the finale of group play.
Speaking of Poland, yesterday was the PLKK All-Star Game, which pitted a group of the best imports in the league against the Polish National Team. The PLKK Stars won 95-75, with Burse leading all scorers with 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting and pulling down seven rebounds.
In Australia, Lauren Jackson led the Canberra TransAct Capitals to a 115-39 blowout win Saturday over their young crosstown rivals, the Australian Institute of Sport. Jackson had 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the win, which improved Canberra to 11-5. That leaves the Capitals a game behind the Sydney Uni Acuvue Flames, who hung on to second place in the WNBL with Saturday’s 86-79 home win over Bendigo. Suzy Batkovic-Brown turned in another big game for Sydney, scoring 30 points on 12-of-23 from the field and pulling down 10 boards. The Flames overcame Kristi Harrower’s 38 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Bird made her Russian SuperLeague debut a winner on Sunday as Spartak defeated Dynamo Kursk 101-79. Bird played just under 10 minutes, scoring seven points and making all three of her shot attempts. Sylvia Fowles led Spartak with 18 points, shooting 8-of-9 from the field. Spartak moved to 8-1 in SuperLeague action. Defending champion UMMC Ekaterinburg, which recently added Candace Parker to the lineup, is atop the league at 10-0.
Nice win for Swin Cash’s Guangdong Asia Aluminum team, which handed the Bayi Kylins just their second loss of the season by an 82-77 final. Cash powered Guangdong with 28 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Chen Nan, who plays for the Chicago Sky, had 15 points and eight boards for Bayi.
Liomatic Umbertide kicked off the second half of the season with a 79-71 win over Napoli Basket Vomero, improving to .500 in Serie A1. Chelsea Newton had 13 points and four boards for Umbertide, doing work at the free throw line, where she shot 9-of-11. Benedetta Bagnara made seven three-pointers in nine attempts, scoring a game-high 27 points for Umbertide.