Arab Club Champion Crowned
After a day of rest, the knockout round of the tournament started with the quarterfinals on Monday. Monique Reid was the leader for Al Fuheis in the first game of the day, a 78-55 win over Cosider. Smouha rolled to an 87-53 win over Orthodox. Beirut continued their title defense with a 76-45 win over Sharjah. The hosts got the last game of the day again and it was a 76-62 win over Al Thawra.
Cap Bon had the first semifinal on Tuesday and it was quite a tense game as the hosts ended up playing four of their players for all 40 minutes. Beirut also leaned heavily on their starters and edged the encounter 56-53 to make it to the final. The other game saw Smouha build a lead by halftime on their way to an 82-58 win over Monique Reid and Al Fuheis. The first game on Wednesday was for third place and Reid’s efforts were not enough again as Al Fuheis lost to Cap Bon 75-73. The final game was excellent as well as Cierra Dillard and Smouha looked to spoil the threepeat, but Beirut showed their championship mettle once again to win 69-64.
More Leagues Start
More leagues across Europe started this week. On Friday, Celje started their quest for a twelfth straight title in Slovenia. Finland also started play on Friday and the opening day saw Elina Aarnisalo, another 2005-born prospect to make global waves recently, lead HBA to an opening day win as their young team will face teams all season long with foreign players. The players who scored at least 30 points in the league on Saturday were Tynice Martin, Carmen Tyson-Thomas, and Maddi Utti. Illness-related postponements may be an issue again this season with Hradec Kralove unable to make their trip to Brno. The Czech league is likely to be dominated by USK Praha with a thirteenth straight title being their domestic goal. They only fielded seven players on Friday, but Valeriane Vukosavljevic and Maria Conde helped them get another domestic rout with a 124-45 win. A full round of games was played in Slovakia on Saturday.
Romania had planned an opening weekend with all games played at a neutral site in the capital, but only four of the five games ended up going ahead as scheduled. After breaking through with their first title, Sepsi Sfantu Gheorghe has won six in a row and is in strong position to defend their crown. Petra Simunic’s 30 point outburst for Brod na Savi highlighted the opening weekend in Croatia. Other leagues to complete their opening weekends include top divisions in Ireland and Portugal. Austria had half of their teams start their seasons. Beneath the British league, Basketball England hosts divisions for teams from England and Wales including reserve teams for the top flight and their Division One started play this week as well.
As usual, some of the big individual performances from around the world came in Turkey’s second division. Ameryst Alston had 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists for Elazig on Saturday. Davion Wingate had 32 points for Yalova, but they still lost on Sunday and Aliyah Mazyck had 37 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 steals for Kirklareli. Top division teams entered the Greek Cup in the round played over the weekend and Megan Gustafson was the high scorer with 30 points for Olympiacos while grabbing 14 rebounds in their 73-64 win over PAOK. Schekinah Bimpa had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Armann in a 78-66 win over Tindastoll in Iceland’s second division. Sune Swart had 30 points and 16 rebounds for Essex Rebels in an 82-74 loss to Caledonia Gladiators in the British league.