MUNICH (EuroLeague Women) - Women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen reflects on the latest round of the 2015-16 EuroLeague Women season.
COMEBACK QUEENS WISLA SHOW HEART
This wonderful game never ceases to amaze me. So many people talk about the women's game and various commanding leads being lost in the blink of an eye as a negative - well, I love it. What happened this week in Krakow was one of those things we see just a handful of times each year. A team who are rock bottom, but out of nowhere, find the heart and character to turn everything on its head.
Down by 22 points at home to Tango Bourges and staring squarely at a miserable 0-5 start to the season, Wisla Can-Pack came alive and completed an eye-popping rescue as they posted a mesmerising 25-6 final period to take their first triumph of the season.
It was extraordinary as they kept Bourges scoreless for the last seven minutes or so and even had to dodge what would have been a major kick in the teeth as Celine Dumerc threw up a last-second triple attempt to try and snatch back the win for the visitors.
It was stirring stuff even for the neutral and the celebrations on the final buzzer saw a heady cocktail of relief, jubilation and I think a small degree of surprise at what had just unfolded. Jose Hernandez has seen pretty much everything in his distinguished career, but this was one of the most unlikely turnarounds.
As for Bourges, they now find themselves in a three-way 1-4 tie at the bottom of Group B with Wisla and Spar CityLift Girona.
Normally it is they who shut out their opponents and it looks like their inability to win on the road could be coming back to haunt them - even more because they usually rely on their home form to seal a play-off berth and that has not materialised so far this season. Or at least yet.
At least seeing Diandra Tchatchouang make a return is one note of optimism. But for me, the loss of Endene Miyem is starting to show with her rugged toughness in the paint a real miss.
MAGNIFICENT VERVE FROM VILLENEUVE D'ASCQ
You have to give enormous credit to Frederic Dusart and Villeneuve d'Ascqfor their win this week. Having bombed in Istanbul during Week 4 when they scored only 35 points against Galatasaray, the reaction was tremendous.
I am full of admiration that they were able to not only come back to take a victory, but do so against Dynamo Kursk who are relatively stacked again this year.
I probably wasn't the only one smiling when I saw that this time it was Villeneuve who found an extra scoring gear. They poured in an impressive 78 points, having only managed 15 in that jaw-dropping 30 minute lean spell the previous week.
MY WEEKLY GONGS
Team performance of the week: Well, I have to say that Villeneuve d'Ascq looked like an absolute lock to take this award - even relatively late on Thursday evening when the Wisla Can-Pack game was in the early stages of the final quarter. But, I can't overlook a remarkable comeback for Jose Hernandez and Co., so Wisla get the nod for what was an incredible victory. Although even they were subsequently challenged for the gong when Spar CityLift Girona pushed UMMC close in the last game of the round.
Individual performance of the week: You can't punishDiana Taurasi just because we all expect it from her. She gets the nod from me for showing us once again why she is rated as one of, if not the best women's player to have graced the planet. She smashed the previous highest individual score of the season so far with 36 points for UMMC to help them avoid an upset at a gallant Spar CityLift Girona. She shot 11-of-15 and that is a mind-boggling 73.3%. Plus, when the game was hanging in the balance at 68-68, she hit a couple of shots with a big hand in her face - nothing but net was the result!
Unsung hero: I mentioned in this week's preview about the need for Wisla to get more out of Devereaux Peters and she obliged. While Yvonne Turnertook the adulation for her 25 points, the 60% shooting of Peters for 12 points, along with nine rebounds and a fabulous five steals, provided the perfect cameo.
Rising star: Aleksandra Crvendakic posted another nice display for Uniqa Sopron as she came close to a third consecutive gong in this category but she will have to move aside forAby Gaye of Villeneuve d'Ascq. The promising French youngster had 13 points and five rebounds, playing 18 minutes against some seriously experienced and class opposing players in the paint.
To come so close to the biggest win in their history and just come up short was bitter-sweet for Girona as the rookies almost toppled UMMC. But, missing 10 of 21 free throws killed them. Nevertheless, full credit for a really strong performance and that bodes well for the rest of the season.
I thought Perfumerias Avenida actually showed they maybe can be a challenger for a play-off spot after all - even if they didn't beat Fenerbahceat home. They ran them mightily close and I think it reflected that ongoing air of unpredictability this season around the competition.
Virgine Bremont (Villeneuve), Silvia Dominguez (Avenida) and Isil Alben(Galatasaray) all dished up a fine nine assists this week and it means we are still waiting for someone to hit the double-digit assist mark in an individual game.