Asia and Oceania
A national team competition was played during the week as the FIBA Melanesian Cup was contested in Suva, Fiji. The way that these competitions get connected to the rest of the global format is not always clear so it is not getting the level of coverage that we would normally provide. The top two teams theoretically advance to a Pacific Games tournament that will provide teams for a confederation-wide event. The four teams started with a round-robin played Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with final games on Saturday. The first games were closer with Papua New Guinea winning 63-51 against the Solomon Islands and Fiji winning 78-62 over New Caledonia. Papua New Guinea edged New Caledonia 67-66 on Thursday while Fiji rolled past the Solomon Islands 76-34 to set the final games a day early. New Caledonia won 69-38 over the Solomon Islands on Friday, then repeated the feat on Saturday 54-28. The championship preview went to the hosts 65-54 and then Fiji won again 71-38 over Papua New Guinea to close the tournament.
Another championship was almost decided as the first cross-national club competition in Southeast Asia continued. Last week, the three teams met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for another set of three games as hosts Harimau won 64-57 over Elite, which won the next day 67-50 over Sniper, which defeated Harimau 62-45. That set up this week in Surabaya to determine which teams would compete for the trophy. Hosts Elite’s 70-55 win over Harimau on Tuesday set the matchup, but the Malaysians nearly ended their tournament with a win before falling to Sniper 55-53 on Wednesday. Elite won 67-65 over Sniper to send a message ahead of their finals matchup. They got the same result in Game 1 on Saturday 51-49. The team from Thailand evened the series up with a 63-59 win on Sunday to force a deciding game.
The season started in South Korea on Sunday with the usual six teams playing across the week with no more than one game a day. The opener was everything that anything could ask for as the S-Birds won 84-77 in double overtime. The Stars started with a loss coming off of their championship win as they will have to adjust to not knowing about the availability of their best player. In Japan, the Vickies are the only team without a win after the first two series. Risa Nishioka was the leading individual scorer with a 32 point, 11 rebound effort for the Koalas on Sunday.
Another full week of games started on Monday with Manati almost being handed their first loss by Lares before Kaela Davis took over and they prevailed 73-70. Santurce returned to action on Tuesday down a player, but it was the two heritage starters for Moca who helped them win 84-70 as Jackie Benitez was impressive from distance. Bad weather postponed the games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Play did resume as scheduled on Friday and Morovis had their full lineup while Lares was down a player and it certainly made a difference for the hosts in an 87-70 win. The other teams played Saturday as Moca handed Manati their first loss 84-73. The other game featured a pair of roster changes as Teana Muldrow replaced Meighan Simmons for Carolina and they still won 70-60 over Santurce, which had Aishah Sutherland replace Whitney Knight. It was tough for Morovis being down an import on Sunday as Manati bounced back with a 74-59 win.
The schedule in South America is not particularly unified even though teams can play in FIBA’s cross-national competition for the region. Sportiva Italiana was the last team to join the fray in Chile, which just completed their third week of play with the twelve teams divided into Central and South zones. Javiera Novion had a triple-double for the University of Chile on Wednesday while Tatiana Gomez was close with 33 points and 16 rebounds for the German School in Paillaco on Sunday.
The league in Argentina has grown to twelve teams this season split into North and South conferences and special experimental rules regarding timing and fouls were adopted. Tomas de Rocamora and Ferro Carril Oeste did not exactly respect the changes as they decided to immediately take one of the first games into overtime, really testing out those foul limits early.
With the focus on national team play, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a late start to their domestic season, but had a full set of games on Saturday. There were plenty of notable steals totals on opening day as Natasa Savic had 8 to go along with 8 rebounds and 11 assists and only 2 points for Lavovi. Niya Mitchell had 7 in her professional debut for Jedinstvo along with 21 points and 21 rebounds. Ana Leko had 6 for Zrinjski to complete a 23 point, 8 rebound, and 8 assist effort.
Another major cross-national competition started with the first games in the European league being played. As has been the case in recent seasons, teams gather in one location for several games in a row and it was Warsaw that hosted three games for four teams. The first game on Friday went to Neptunas of Lithuania 68-48 over Latvia’s Riga Stradins University. The hosts won 100-91 over Chomutov of the Czech Republic. Chomutov did win 88-79 on Saturday against Neptunas behind 41 points and 12 rebounds from NaJai Pollard while the hosts won 61-54 in the other game. Riga Stradins University remained winless after an 87-58 loss to Chomutov on Sunday and Polonia Warszawa stayed perfect with an 85-75 win over Neptunas. In other cross-national competitions, Celje scored 135 points in their win in the Adriatic while the best Baltic league individual effort was 33 points from Danguole Pupkeviciute for Lithuania’s Siauliai in a win over their opponents from Estonia.
After two games were successfully played in Ukraine last weekend, there was more chaos when more teams entered the picture. Only one of the scheduled games for Wednesday was completed as air raid sirens sounded in Cherkasy and play was stopped. The two teams resumed play on Thursday and were eventually also able to play the originally scheduled game as well, although not without interruption as Poltava had the rare accomplishment of winning two games in one day. In another week where Russia is in the basketball news consciousness, another foreign player played her first game for a team there. Even with the changes in the league, foreign players this year are able to participate in the Russian Cup, which had not been the case in recent years.
The whole round is not complete yet with another game on Monday in the Turkish second division, but Tarsus remains the only undefeated team. Karsiyaka remains winless after Aliyah Mazyck had 31 points and 6 steals for Kirklareli. Ameryst Alston did everything she could with 47 points and 6 steals, but Elazig still lost. In France, Feytiat is the only undefeated team after three rounds in the second division as the goal is to jockey for playoff positioning down the road. Ferrol now has a two game lead in the loss column on the field in Spain as they seek to bounce back from the drop immediately. Only two games were played in Iceland’s second division, leaving less opportunities for big games, but Jenna Mastellone did dial up 38 points in a win against Schekinah Bimpa, who had 31 points and 13 rebounds.
Notable Individual Performances
The big performances in Iceland midweek games came in the same contest as Kiana Johnson had 30 points in Valur’s win despite Aliyah Collier having 36 points and 19 rebounds for Njardvik. In Serbia, Dragana Gobeljic had a 30 point effort for Kraljevo. Over in Norway, Makana Stone had a 33 point game for Baerum while Stine Austgulen had 30 points for the powerhouse Ulriken Eagles. Big games in Kosovo included 30 points for Ke’Aunna Johnson and Sarah Mgbeike grabbing 21 rebounds. In the Czech Republic, Ostrava was shut out in a third quarter earlier this season, but it was their turn on Wednesday when they held Slovanka scoreless immediately after the break while the visitors had no trouble scoring on Saturday with Destiny Campbell contributing 32 points, but they lost again. Sophia Jacobsson had a triple-double in Albania. A number of players were close to that achievement in Croatia, but Mihaela Dobric recording 8 steals and Shanice Johnson grabbing 22 rebounds were among the notable statlines.
There were plenty of big games in Luxembourg again with some players hitting the 30 point mark twice this week. Kierra Anthony had 36 points on Thursday and then had 30 points on Saturday with Amanda Cahill chipping in with 32 to get Residence Walferdange a pair of wins. Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman had 37 in that second game for Etzella Ettelbruck, having had 35 points in a win on Thursday with Isis Lane adding 30 points. Mikayla Ferenz had 35 points in the loss for Musel Pikes as she continues to chase Welch-Coleman for the early lead in the race for the scoring title.