While we’re barely a month removed from the end of the Storm’s season and still less than two weeks out from the conclusion of the WNBA Finals, most foreign leagues are already under way. That being the case, it’s time to kick off our overseas coverage that will last through next spring.
Suzy Batkovic-Brown is back home in Australia, playing for the Acuvue Sydney Uni Flames in the WNBL. Sydney has gone 2-2 thus far in four games, falling Saturday to Bulleen by an 80-71 final. Batkovic-Brown contributed 22 points on 9-of-22 shooting and 10 rebounds in defeat, posting her second straight double-double and third 20-point effort in as many games (she sat out the Flames’ opener shortly after returning from Seattle). For the season, Batkovic-Brown is averaging 24.7 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Having a player of Batkovic-Brown’s caliber actually presented something of an issue for Sydney initially.
“They all stood around and watched Suzy for a while,” Head Coach Karen Dalton told The Daily Telegraph after Batkovic-Brown’s debut. “That’s not Suzy’s fault. That’s us getting used to having her on our team.”
The mere arrival of Janell Burse in Krakow was big news. Since making her way overseas on Oct. 8, Burse has played in three games, all of them wins, while averaging 13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Before her arrival, Wisla Can-Pack started just 1-2 and now sits fourth in the league table at 4-2. However, Wisla got great news when it was selected to replace defunct CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague. Burse, who played in Euroleague with ZVVZ USK Praha for three seasons before spending last year in the EuroCup, joins Storm teammates Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson (who have yet to join their Spartak Moscow Region team) in Europe’s top flight, which tips off next week.
Playing overseas for the first time, Ashley Walker got her season in Israel off to a great start by helping lead Maccabi Ashdod to the championship of the preseason “Winner Cup” tournament. Ashdod narrowly held off Ramla 84-82 last Tuesday to claim the title, with Walker’s double-double (22 points, 14 boards) leading the way. Based in no small part on her performance in the tournament, Israeli DI coaches picked Walker as the preseason favorite to win MVP honors ahead of veterans Deanna Jackson and Noelle Quinn and fellow rookie Kia Vaughn.
Walker’s Ashdod team begins the season one of the favorites to win the league, but got off to a rough start today, losing to Raanana Hertzeliya 79-76. Walker had 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and five rebounds and teammate Courtney Paris contributed 21 points and 22 boards, but Ashdod could not overcome a 33-point effort from sharpshooting Chicago guard Kristi Toliver.