After a lengthy holiday break that featured just one game (Spartak Moscow Region winning a game that was postponed earlier), the Euroleague was back in full swing yesterday and today. Two of the biggest results involved members of the Seattle Storm.
Earlier today, Wisla Can-Pack suffered its first loss in Euroleague play, falling 92-88 in Italy to Beretta Famila Schio. The fourth quarter was filled with taut, back-and-forth action, and Janell Burse brought Wisla within two points with 10 seconds to play. However, Laura Macchi sealed things by making two free throws with three seconds on the clock to push the margin to two possessions. Burse got into early foul trouble and never really found a rhythm, finishing with eight points and four boards – both season lows during what has been an excellent Euroleague campaign for her. But Ewelina Kobryn (27 points), Marta Fernandez (22) and Iziane Castro Marques (17) stepped in to fill the scoring void. Where Wisla really suffered was at the defensive end. Macchi scored 24 points, making all 13 of her free throw attempts.
In practice, the loss is unlikely to have much impact. All Wisla needs to do is beat 1-8 Gospic Croatia next Wednesday to secure first place in Group B. This does mean the lone remaining undefeated team in Euroleague is Spartak Moscow Region, which got a stiff test from Tarbes GB but pulled out a 78-75 road win by holding Tarbes scoreless over the game’s final 2:58. The UConn backcourt was key for Spartak. Sue Bird scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and Diana Taurasi put up a game-high 33 points, making five three-pointers.
Also in Group D, Lotos Gdynia surprised Frisco Sika Brno 77-73 at home in a game that could carry them into the knockout stages. The rebuilt roster came together to beat a Brno team that entered 5-3. In her debut for Gdynia, Tanisha Wright had four points, four steals, three rebounds and three assists. Erin Phillips had 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while Gdynia’s defense held DeWanna Bonner (4-of-14) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (3-of-11) in check.
At 3-6, Gdynia is now alone in fourth place in Group D, but will probably still need some help to reach the postseason. Next week, Lotos travels to face Spartak on the road, a likely loss. Barring an upset, Gdynia would need Tarbes to lose to Fenerbahce to advance, while a win by Szeviép would mean a tie that would come down to points scored and allowed. Fortunately for Gdynia, both the 2-7 teams tied for fifth will be considerable underdogs next week.
While we’re focused on Euroleague, All-Star voting is ongoing now. Because they missed most of the season, neither Bird nor Wright is eligible, but Burse is on the ballot and her stats (17.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game) are certainly worthy of the honor, so be sure to cast your vote.