World of Basketball September 25th

The main focus of the women’s basketball world may have switched to the World Cup this week with the conclusion of the WNBA season, but there were leagues in plenty of countries that started or continued play.

A Different International Championship

More than one big international tournament is being played this week as Nabeul, Tunisia is hosting the Arab Club Championships. The tournament is very prestigious in the region and the top teams take tremendous pride in it and can afford to bring in two foreigners with significant experience. There ended up being eleven teams from eight countries, although Somalia’s Mogadishu City did not play the first game on Tuesday and only fielded six players on Wednesday.

Hosts Cap Bon brought in Shavonte Zellous and Chelsea Hopkins. Two time defending champions Beirut are trying to make it five titles in a row for Lebanon and signed Elizabeth Williams and Shaqwedia Wallace. The Jordanian teams also have championship aspirations as Al Fuheis has Monique Billings and Monique Reid while Orthodox has Aishah Sutherland and Brittany Dinkins. The United States is not the only source of players for the import slots as Syria’s Al Thawra brought in Bride Kennedy-Hopoate alongside Ciani Cryor, Sharjah from the United Arab Emirates paired Ukraine’s Olesia Malashenko with Meighan Simmons, and Algeria’s Cosider signed Mireille Muganza from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Egypt’s Smouha has Shae Kelley and Cierra Dillard as they also harbor title hopes.

The opener was Smouha’s 96-45 win over Sharjah, followed by Cosider winning 61-53 over Al Thawra. Orthodox won 58-52 against Al Hilal and all four foreign players were firing in Cap Bon’s 81-63 win over Al Fuheis. All scheduled games were played on Wednesday, starting with Al Thawra’s 74-61 win over Orthodox. The last three teams to get into action were Beirut, which won 69-50 against Cosider, MTS of Algeria, which fell to Al Fuheis 79-46, and Mogadishu City, which lost to Sharjah 80-53. The hosts did not benefit from any scheduling breaks, losing to Smouha 80-67 to finish the day. The first game on Thursday was fantastic as Meighan Simmons had 56 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, but it was not enough even after she played all 45 minutes as Sharjah lost to MTS 94-91. Beirut breezed past Al Hilal 71-39, Smouha won 88-79 over Al Fuheis, and Cosider edged Orthodox 67-62. Mogadishu City was up to eight players, but lost to Cap Bon 115-70. Friday started with Al Thawra’s 72-59 win over Al Hilal. Sharjah struggled after their tough loss and fell to Al Fuheis 77-36. Smouha breezed to a 92-43 win over Mogadishu City, Beirut looked strong in an 88-50 win over Orthodox, and Cap Bon closed the day with a 102-36 win over MTS. Teams made decisions with a focus on the knockout round on Saturday as Al Fuheis breezed past Mogadishu City 77-36. Cosider won 71-53 over Al Hilal while Smouha’s resting of key players saw them nearly picking up a loss before prevailing 56-47 over MTS. Beirut won 67-49 over Al Thawra with both teams at full strength while neither team fielded their foreigners in Cap Bon’s 103-26 win over Sharjah.

More Leagues Start

Another country started their season midweek with Iceland starting play. Even with the country’s small population, the league is of a reasonable standard and even the second division teams can bring in foreign players. In the second division, Violet Morrow had 32 points in KR’s 78-76 win over Snaefell while Chloe Wanink outscored Breidablik herself in Tindastoll’s 95-26 win. Danielle Rodriguez had the standout effort in the opening round of the top flight with 36 points for Grindavik after returning from a break in her playing career in their 87-75 win over Fjolnir.

The Netherlands had a full slate of games on Saturday and Denmark had the teams that did not debut last weekend play their first games on Sunday. The British league also had its start over the weekend. London Lions figures to be the overwhelming favorite, once again making sure that they have the top local talent, but also adding high level foreigners to the mix. Their 114-23 win over Oaklands Wolves on Saturday with Ty Battle nearly scoring enough to win the game on her own was a clear statement, but their Sunday game had a less extreme margin when they won 83-72 over Sevenoaks Suns.

Another league that started this weekend was the top division in Luxembourg. Many clubs there have reasonable amounts of money compared to the size of the population and are often able to draw talented foreigners. While there are solid local players, they are spread out among the teams so big individual games do happen. The top two scoring outputs of the opening round came from Mikayla Ferenz of Musel Pikes and Kierra Anthony of Residence Walferdange with both players providing 31 points in their games.

The Push for Promotion

Not all countries in Europe have clear structures for promotion and relegation, but many of the most populous countries do and teams in second divisions began their chase for spots at the highest level. Turkey’s second division has three reserve teams, but the other thirteen squads are fighting for two spots in the top flight. There were several big individual performances during the opening weekend, but they ended up coming in losses. Ameryst Alston had 36 points and 10 rebounds in Elazig’s 82-66 loss to Tarsus, Angela Tompkins had 44 points and 16 rebounds, but Alanya still lost to Elazig Il Ozel Idare 83-75, and Aliyah Mazyck had 32 points and 7 rebounds in Kirklareli’s 73-66 loss to Fenerbahce’s reserve team.

Germany’s second division is split into North and South divisions as the past few seasons have been chaotic in terms of league structure, but there are expectations that everything will return to normal this season. Several reserve teams are competing alongside promotion hopefuls and there are plenty of teams with recent experience in the top league. The story of the opening weekend was Wasserburg again as the club was once the preeminent powerhouse of the country with five straight championships on two occasions. It was close, but they were relegated last season and they lost their season opener 62-56 to Schwabach.

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