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Author Topic: ¶ Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Del Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres  (Read 394947 times)
BGA Jorge Dunwy'
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« Reply #35 on: Jan 09, 2013, 05:39:19 AM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Turkish Cup is a real delight as Torrens returns

For everyone associated with Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, losing against your bitter rival can feel like the end of the world at the best of times, so we should probably spare a thought for Fener who lost the Turkish Cup in the most gut-wrenching circumstances imaginable last weekend.

For the neutral, it was high quality and high drama of the very highest order - a game which will live long in the memory of anyone who witnessed it and rather painfully for Fener, will be one of the most talked about Turkish domestic games for many years to come.

Having worked tirelessly to haul themselves back into a Final which had seemingly ebbed away from them when trailing by double-digits, Fenerbahce celebrated wildly as they tied the contest with an audacious three-pointer from Cappie Pondexter with just one-second on the game clock.

At that particular juncture, the pendulum had seemingly swung viciously in favour of Fener, but as their fans bounced up and down in jubilation at the prospect of realising this unexpected second chance and finishing the job in overtime, there was to be an epic sting in the tail.

As Galatasaray inbounded the ball with one second remaining, they found Sancho Lyttle who caught it, spun around and released, then along with everyone else, briefly held her breath as time seemed to stand still. For this was no sweet jump shot at all. The ball clattered off the backboard but wiped its feet and fortunately for the forward and her team, dropped.

It sparked scenes of bedlam both on and off the court as Galatasaray players, officials and fans went nuts and celebrated a fourth successive Cup success, simultaneously extracting revenge for their Presidents’ Cup loss to Fenerbahce earlier in the season.

But, amongst the pandemonium of the obligatory court invasion, the wild celebrations and the stark contrast of crestfallen Fenerbahce players trudging off to the locker rooms trying to contemplate a dagger being driven cruelly through their hearts, Spanish eyes were smiling thousands of miles away - even as far afield as China.

For this wonderful and dramatic occasion also marked the return to action of a certain Alba Torrens.

 

And it won’t only have been Spanish national team head coach Lucas Mondelo sat with a broad grin on his face on the other side of the globe.

Alba Torrens in a match with the Spanish National Team against Anastasiya Verameyenka of Belarus

No, we all rejoice in the return of Alba, since women’s basketball needs its marquee players on the court and it was certainly a memorable and fitting occasion for a player of her stature to announce her arrival.

The Cup triumph was tinged with some sadness however. For the participation of Torrens, perhaps a little earlier than the Gala staff management would have liked, was facilitated by the loss of centre Sylvia Fowles who had to return home to the States for due to a bereavement. And, we of course, send our best wishes to Sylvia and her family.

What I loved about this Turkish Cup Final was that it underlined and re-enforced why you just have to love women’s basketball, it cemented the theory that the quality of women’s basketball in Turkey is up there with the best (certainly in a European context) and poured a little more fuel onto one of the greatest rivalries there is.

And for sure, there is absolutely nothing more compelling and fascinating than observing an intense rivalry whilst simultaneously being served up with this kind of epic drama and entertainment.

For Pondexter, who hit the highs with that last gasp triple to seemingly save the day, it was a painful day in more ways than one. She was so upset she apparently punched some glass in anger, disappointment and frustration on her way to the locker rooms and was left nursing some stitches and 10 days out of action injured as a result!

As an aside and still on the topic of great rivalries, it also perhaps went a little under the radar (due to seasonal festivities) that EuroLeague Women favourites and the previously unbeaten UMMC Ekaterinburg, actually lost for the first time this season a couple of weeks ago.

Who defeated them? Yes, you’ve guessed it, their great rivals, Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje.


Refreshed and re-charged after the winter beak, watching these aforementioned quartet of women’s club basketball heavyweights slug it out, just whets the appetite further for what promises to be another stunning year of women’s basketball at all levels and not least in EuroLeague Women since all have a chance to top the podium.

I absolutely love it - so bring it on!

 Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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BGA J.J. Diaz
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« Reply #34 on: Dec 20, 2012, 03:13:20 AM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Fenerbahce  Roberto Íñiguez and his fatherly pride

One of the many beauties of being a sports writer is that you sometimes get a wonderful insight into something quite different and very personal.

I was lucky enough to notice a tweet earlier this month sent by @Robertoih5 aka Roberto Iniguez, the reigning EuroLeague Women champion coach, now at Fenerbahce.

He was publicly expressing his pride at his teenage son making his senior debut for Villarreal CF as the football club continues its quest to gain promotion and a return back to the top flight of Spanish football.

From the moment I saw the tweet, I was fascinated as to the dynamic between basketball coach (and former pro player) father and his football playing son.

“Obviously I'm very proud,” beamed Iniguez.

“My son has been playing since he was 10 years old at Villarreal CF, and it’s very nice to see your own child progress and evolve each season.

“He was called up during previous matches with the first team, even last year in European club competition, but was not lucky enough to be handed a debut.

“Now, at the age of 18 years old, he is working as a player with the first team, and the opportunity has finally come.


He continued: “For me, the most important thing is that my son does what he loves.


Turkish club Fenerbahce has named Spaniard Roberto Íñiguez as their head coach for the upcoming season.
Iniguez was the coach of EuroLeague  and Spanish league champions Ros Casares last season.
While leading Ros Casares he suffered only one defeat – to Perfumerias Avenida in the Copa de la Reina final.

“As a parent, I support and help him in any way I can - the only thing I ask him is to work day by day doing everything with heart.

“I was a professional basketball player and now a coach, and always I tried to convey him the values and principles of a good sportsmanship.”

So, does dad get involved in giving advice on the football front, and is it better Pablo isn’t a basketball player?

“Football? I have no idea - or at least that's what he claims,” laughed Iniguez.

“We have mainly talked a lot about attitude, perseverance, effort, respect and to be humble and to be a nice guy.

“So, in terms of whether it is better than Pablo plays soccer? Sincerely, yes!

“Firstly, because we now have two different sports to discuss at home, and secondly, because if he was a basketball player, it would be hard to put up with me - I'd just be far too heavy on him!”

Whilst Iniguez may actually be relieved he doesn’t have one more pro basketball player to contend with, he did admit that initially, the temptation to try and steer his son towards the court was too much to resist.

He admitted: “Yes, I took my son to shoot and dribble when he was very young to a basket near where we resided.

“However, I quickly realised that what he liked to do was to play football.

“One day, when I went to pick him up at school when he was eight years old, I arrived a few minutes early and when I looked into the school yard, I saw Pablo playing football and enjoying it so much - absolutely drenched in sweat.

“It was then I realised that football was his sport.”

Still, whilst the sports may be different, the bond is very strong and the shared values are what lie at the heart of the relationship as football and basketball cross over into family life.

“Our relationship has always been very close - we are very close,” said Iniguez.

“Now that he is becoming more mature, we talk more about his coach and my players, but my son knows very well that you should always respect the work of everyone.

“He knows that working as a coach is not easy.

“On the other hand, when one of us has a problem, we always say the same thing - something we have said for several years: Always forward, always positive, always learning!”

Iniguez purposefully spells it out in capital letters, to re-enforce this shared mantra, or perhaps more accurately, a verbal contract between father and son, a verbal contract between a coach and a player. Whatever way you look at it, it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment because it makes sense.

“I think now we both learn from each other, and as the years pass, I recognise that so many times, I am amazed by his ability to analyse things” adds the play-caller.

Much of his time is now spent geographically separated from his homeland and of course, from Pablo. So, perhaps it’s a blessing that due to the rigorous demands of coaching in the white-hot atmosphere of Istanbul, he has plenty work of his own to focus on other than worrying about the progress of his boy.

“Yes, my life in Fenerbahce is work, and then more work” he confirmed.

“I have barely had time to practice being a tourist, but I can’t complain since I am at a great club.

“I am fortunate to belong to it because it has excellent facilities and is a fantastic situation.

“Yes, it’s true that it sometimes feels so far from the people you love, but I've had some family visits and during Christmas, a certain football player will visit for a few days.

“Everything is intense here. I don't need pressure because I'm very hard and demanding on myself.


“Our various competitions do not allow any relaxation. I especially feel very involved and committed to the club, the nice people and their philosophy.”

 Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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« Reply #33 on: Dec 06, 2012, 03:04:18 AM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Sensational prospect Stewart is no Candace Parker

If you’re talking with friends about the next big thing in women’s basketball, it’s a no-brainer that Breanna Stewart will be mentioned at some point in the conversation.

Another golden girl from the conveyor belt of outstanding young USA talent which continues to roll in rather relentless fashion, decade after decade, Stewart has finally made the transition from high school to Husky.

And, the freshman has made an instant impact at UConn. Only last night, a huge crowd in excess of 10,000, watched Stewart and her team-mates despatch Maryland, meaning the buzz around the potential of the player is becoming louder with each minute she spends treading the boards.

Hailed as the future of women’s hoops by the likes of Slam Online, having won Gatorade High School Athlete Of The Year honours to follow the likes of Candace Parker and the former Huskies duo of Tina Charles and Maya Moore, she’s causing the same kind of stir and excitement.

And it’s not just the fans who are getting excited either. The highly-respected Rebecca Lobo of ESPN was so impressed when she watched Stewart during the summer with the USA Youth teams (where the player has accumulated up a serious medal haul and several personal accolades) that she sent a tweet basically suggesting the player was already up to WNBA standard. She also said via ESPN that Stewart was the best high school player she had ever seen play.

   

Few would disagree and she has already caused wider interest and put her name up in lights after an impromptu decision to join the boys’ Dunk Contest at the McDonald’s All-American Game this year where she threw down a couple of alley-oops.

UConn-commit Breanna Stewart is the 2011-12 Player of the Year. She had always been a talented player who commanded attention, but this year she also made her team a national Top 10 power.

Not surprisingly, UCONN and USA head coach Geno Auriemma is trying to strike a balance with Stewart. He is doing the same job as he has done with other big prospects by trying to temper the excitement surrounding her just a little and talking about Stewart within a team context wherever possible.

However, it won’t be easy even for a coach of his stature to keep a lid on things – such is the hype which was of course magnified by Stewart joining other female dunkers like Brittney Griner and Parker.

The buzz surrounding the likes of Griner, and now Stewart, has opened up the debate as to whether these young dunkers can help boost the popularity of the women’s game.

As the next batch of potential global women’s basketball stars, it’s hard to disagree that they won’t bring a raft of new fans who will enjoy their strength, athleticism and skills - attributes which seem to be evolving with each generation.

For me, you have to place this particular question into a wider context. If players dunking the ball for example, brings more attention and interest and this is beneficial then great. But, on the flip-side, we maybe shouldn’t lose sight of the possibility that the women’s game doesn’t necessarily have to try and move closer to achieving the same headline attributes which fuel the men’s game.

Women’s basketball is what it is because of the full package it offers. And, a bit like Stewart herself, it’s the full package that makes ordinary become special. Yes, she can dunk occasionally, but in my opinion, that should never be the headline moving forward - unless it is the game-winning basket.

That’s because Stewart has the full package and shouldn’t be all about the dunking element. Her outstanding versatility, court smarts, devastating perimeter shooting range and ability to run the floor in transition are all perfectly fusing with her mind-boggling seven feet wing-span and incredible athleticism.

Additionally, watch the videos of Stewart dunking, and outwardly at least, she almost seems to be wondering what all the fuss is about. And for me, if this is the case, that's a great sign of a player with her feet on the ground (if you pardon the pun) and who knows what really matters in the game.

As with the emergence of all rising stars, comparisons are already being made to the greats. In her particular case, I have seen some ‘tale of the tape’ exercises comparing her to Parker for example.

But, comparing a bona-fide worldwide star with an albeit outstanding prospect still only just dipping her toes into the college game, is very much an apples and pears scenario – at this stage at least.

If, or perhaps more accurately, when Stewart eventually makes the grade at the very highest level, she won’t be the next Candace Parker – she’ll be the one and only Breanna Stewart.


It’s going to be a real thrill following her progress in coming years and I sincerely hope she achieves everything she wants in the game, and not necessarily what others expect her to achieve.

Most importantly of all, at this crucial phase of her development, she’s in exactly the right place and in very capable hands.

 Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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« Reply #32 on: Nov 25, 2012, 01:47:12 AM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Russian League shows its teeth

There’s always much debate within the women’s basketball family as to which is the best domestic league. The answer for many is obviously the WNBA, and particularly since EuroLeague Women is taken out of the equation with it not falling neatly into the category of being a domestic league.

The Russian league is one of the next strongest, and it’s been interesting of late to note how the traditional powerhouse duo of Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje and UMMC Ekaterinburg could potentially find their dominance more difficult to sustain with a number of other teams trying to plug the gulf in class.

Yes, the chasing pack has lifted its collective game considerably, and is now a more potent threat which is making the Russian League incredibly intense and competitive. Just recently, Sparta&K MR. Vidnoje lost successive league games and because they are such an illustrious club, this was (whether they liked it or not) particularly newsworthy. It also highlighted the increasing danger posed by other Russian clubs.

These include Nadezhda who are potential EuroLeague Women Final Eight candidates and Dynamo Kursk who has a start-studded roster and remain favourites to retain the EuroCup Women title they won last season. In fact they are still unbeaten this season.

Dynamo Moscow meanwhile has a string of Russian national team players such as Ilona Korstin, Svetlana Abrosimova, Tatiana Vidmer and Nadezhda Grishaeva to call upon.

Then, even just below this primary chasing pack are the likes of Dynamo-GUVD, a mid to lower ranking club that has relied on their Russian core of Natalia Myasoedova and rising stars such as Tatiana Petrushina and Anastasiya Shilova. This season however, they have boosted their talent levels further by welcoming imports Yvonne Turner and Sidney Spencer.

The all-round strength of the Russian League this season is something that even new UMMC Ekaterinburg head coach Olaf Lange has noticed. Although as you might expect, there’s only one team Ekat looks out for on the season schedule.

“Yes, I wholeheartedly agree,” he said.

“The Russian League is one of the best domestic leagues, and I am excited to be able to experience it first hand.

“Rivalries really make our sport special as they bring out the best in everyone and this one is no different!

“I am certainly looking forward to a lot of battles with Sparta&K!”

Please, Refresh this Page Once to Load all the Previews, Photographs or the Videos !


Sparta&K is perhaps the most interesting case of all. With a still large but undeniably reduced budget from a few years ago, it is evolving its approach with impressive pace and results.

Augustus from Spartak to Galatasaray for a million? Apparently, no!

For in addition to signing stellar talent such as Candice Dupree, Seimone Augustus and Becky Hammon to name but a few, it has also poured resources into the development of younger players, both Russian as well as the signing the very best from around Europe – including Nika Baric and Emma Meesseman, both FIBA Europe Young Player Of The Year winners.

They have been loaning out some of those players with terrific success - national team centre Natalia Vieru being a prime example. She has been in fine form since she returned from her spell last season at Good Angels Kosice. It’s a smart and shrewd strategy by Sparta&K as they try to retain their place at the head of the top table but also contribute to developing the national team with their strategy.

General Manager Steve Costalas explained: “During the first years of Sparta&K Vidnoje, Shabtai von Kalmanovich built a unique farm system just as he had done in Kaunas and till today we have already seen some of the products of this farm system.

“Forty percent of our annual budget is dedicated to our youth teams and our farm system. I really do not know of many (if any) other club that does the same.

“Anna Arkhipova von Kalmanovic is also working based on this philosophy and now we are proud to say that just this summer gone, 11 Sparta&K players played in a total of four Russian women teams.

“Natalia (Vieru) has been with us since she was 16 years old and after loaning her for a year to Kosice, we are expecting her to do what she knows so well.

“This season we decided to loan Ksenia Tikhonenko to another Euroleague team (Municipal Targoviste) which is a class organization with a very good coach (George Dikeoulakos) and we are waiting for her to return more experienced and mature.”

“At the same time joining the first team this season will be Galina Kiseleva and Darya Namok who both this past summer were instrumental in Russia reaching the Final at the U20 European Championship Women.

“We hope they will improve by practicing everyday with some of the best players in the world as well as by fighting for some quality playing time.


The family atmosphere at Sparta&K and the seemingly perfect fusion of youth and experience is set for a stern challenge this season, and it will be fascinating to see if both they, and their fellow heavyweights Ekat, can continue to slug it out.

Or, whether a new challenger can emerge and land a telling sucker-punch in the race for silverware in what is a deliciously intense and competitive Russian League.

 Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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« Reply #31 on: Oct 04, 2012, 08:08:34 AM »

Women Basketball Worldwide & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

EuroBasket Women Groups C and D look particularly tough to call

Continuing my thoughts on how the first round of EuroBasket Women 2013 might unfold after the recent draw, the bottom half is packed with no less than four Olympic teams and could provide the two biggest dog-fights as participants seek to avoid being dumped out prematurely.

Group C contains hosts France along with Great Britain, Latvia and Serbia. And, the home crowd should anticipate finishing top of the pile, building on their sensational silver medal in London. Any fears that Les Bleues might not be focused should be allayed by heightened expectation as not only the host nation, Olympic runners-up.

Boosted by the decision of head coach Pierre Vincent to continue at the helm, France should breeze through this initial phase. All eyes will inevitably be on Celine Dumerc who had the hot hand in the British capital and with her pulling the strings in the backcourt, another podium finish is a no-brainer.

However, as many hosts have found out before, being the home team can be a curse as well as a blessing and the players must cope with that aforementioned weight of expectation. But, in reality, they should feed off the energy these passionate supporters bring.

The only other note of caution is that they haven’t beaten Latvia for quite some time and had a real battle to edge out Great Britain when they last locked horns although neither will keep coach Vincent awake at night.

Quite how Latvia, Serbia and Great Britain can be separated at this point in time I really don’t know! Trying to pick who will be sent home early is difficult but at this stage, and if forced to choose, I would say Great Britain will be back on the Eurostar and heading to Waterloo station by the end of the first round.

Coach Tom Maher has done a wonderful job but is not necessarily going to be in charge. The multi-talented Jo Leedham has WNBA ambitions and the likes of the rock solid Kim Butler has called it a day. Of course much can happen between now and June, so we will see. But the outlook isn’t particularly bright at this juncture.

Still, Latvia and Serbia do not represent any major fear factor for Great Britain. Both are decent teams although prior to qualification earlier in the summer, neither was particularly noted as favourites to punch their respective tickets for France.

Latvia continue to undergo a transitional phase in what some are describing as a ‘post Anete Jekabsone’ period as they integrate many talented young players including the likes of the sharp-shooting Ieva Krastina - although notably, the veteran Jekabsone may not have necessarily played her last game in a Latvian vest. We’ll see.

With experienced frontcourt duo Liene Jansone and Zane Tamane, Latvia always has a foundation to build on and perhaps their prospects will depend on whether they re-integrate Elina Babkina who missed out this year due to injury issues. Either way, new head coach Aigars Nerips should certainly be congratulated for his work and was deservedly rewarded with an extension to his contact recently.

Another coach who has done a wonderful job is Marina Maljkovic of Serbia. Without the WNBA skills of Sonja Petrovic and without stand-out Jelena Milovanovic for much of the qualification campaign due to injury, she still guided her team through in hugely impressive fashion. I like the Serbian team a lot and they could shake things up in Group C.

Last but not least, Group D is seriously tough and also very, very interesting with Czech Republic, Croatia, Belarus and Lithuania all potentially well-matched.

Czech Republic will inevitably be installed as favourites due to their history in the competition and of course, because they reached the Quarter-Finals of the Olympics in London - even if they were undeniably below-par.

Coach Lubor Blazek needs to get his team back to their best although perhaps a new era beckons for the Czech team and it must be a concern there are a few hugely influential veterans who will no longer be able to commit.

Croatia is fascinating. They are the buoyant team who must take the bold step of heading into this tournament believing they can make the last four. There is no reason they can’t. They have the players and they now have even more tournament experience.

Centre Marija Vrsaljko is a terrific prospect and capable of big things, they have great leadership from a number of players such as Ana Lelas, Andja Jelavic, Sandra Mandir and Jelena Ivezic.

Lithuania is always tough. Even with a sting of absentees, they still qualified relatively comfortably and have a glut of excellent 1990’s born players which bodes well for the future. And, if important players like Ausra Bimbaite return next summer, they will be a tricky customer for their Group D rivals.

Finally, Rimantas Grigas and his Belarus players need to take some serious plaudits for qualifying for this tournament. Still suffering a hangover from their agonisingly premature exit at EuroBasket Women 2011 in Poland, then pitched into arguably the most difficult qualification group and without their marquee player Yelena Leuchanka, they still managed to prevail.

You could of course argue that Belarus is the one team in women’s basketball which commands love and respect from their nation more than any other. They are the true darlings of Belarussian sport, role-models and the pin-ups of many teenagers in Minsk.

On that basis alone, it’s wonderful to see them reach another major tournament and I am assuming the nation will once again be gripped by their exploits when they step out onto the floor in Trelaze.


Yes, EuroBasket Women 2013 promises to be a truly fantastic couple of weeks.

 Paul Nilsen from FIBA


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