Asia and Oceania
National team play in Oceania this week saw five teams from Polynesia travel to Kaitaia in New Zealand to qualify two teams for the Pacific Games. Play in the round-robin started on Tuesday with Tahiti’s 83-37 win over Tonga being followed by an 87-75 Cook Islands win over American Samoa. Tahiti won again in the first game on Wednesday, 65-59 over American Samoa while Samoa was the last team to play and had their star Malama Leaupepe fire them past Tonga 96-63. She had another excellent game on Thursday, but the Cook Islands won 79-76. Lesila Finau prepared for the college season with a great game for Tonga, but the Nawahine sisters Malia and Valerie led American Samoa to a 98-88 win. Samoa got a key 76-52 win over Tahiti on Friday and the Cook Islands won 73-51 over Tonga. Leaupepe helped Samoa take care of their business on Saturday with an 83-58 win over American Samoa. They qualified in second after the Cook Islands won 65-48 over Tahiti to win the tournament.
The Southeast Asia Women’s Basketball league crowned the champion of their Introduction Series on Monday with the deciding game of the finals. Hosting the last games in Indonesia helped Elite as they won 65-56 over Thailand’s Sniper. With the competition successfully completed, the goal will be to have another similar tournament early next year with teams from more countries and then a full season similar to what had been formed on the men’s side before pandemic-caused postponements.
Play continued in South Korea with the Blue Minx making their awaited debut on Monday against Hana Bank. Top draft pick Kianna Smith did not disappoint, but it was Kang Yoo-Lim who ended up being the leading scorer in their 85-69 win. The last two teams to start their season did so on Wednesday as both teams were also the ones to make the biggest moves of the past two offseasons. Kim Dan-Bi had exactly the debut that Woori Bank wanted when they made her the league’s highest paid player and Park Hye-Jin had a triple-double in their 79-54 win as it was a tough start for BNK. The Blue Minx won 93-80 over the S-Birds on Thursday. Kim Dan-Bi had a triple-double on Friday in Woori Bank’s 78-60 win over the Stars. Saturday’s game went to overtime and 30 points from Shin Ji-Hyun was not enough for Hana Bank in a 78-75 loss to BNK. The Blue Minx trailed at halftime against the Stars, but took care of business after the break for a 66-55 win.
In Japan, Iris is the last undefeated team after their opponent for the weekend, the Rabbits, had a virus outbreak that postponed the games. At the other end of the standings, the Vickies were the last team to pick up their first win. The Egrets continue to struggle in their debut season, but Minami Shirasaki had a 33 point effort on Sunday to be the leading scorer from this set of games. Drame Mareme Ndoye had 31 points for the Cougars in a Saturday game.
A disease outbreak, though not the one that has been most disruptive most recently, caused Tuesday’s game to be postponed in Puerto Rico. Moca was down a player on Wednesday so Manati had an easy 80-53 win. Thursday’s game was also postponed so the next action was on Friday with Manati’s 71-69 win over Carolina. Morovis was finally able to play on Saturday, but it was rather farcical as they fielded only five players, none of them normal starters, in an 80-69 loss to Moca. All Star festivities proceeded on Sunday, including Manati winning the 3×3 portion. In the main game, Tayra Melendez did not play for the team named after her, but Jennifer O’Neill did for her squad and helped them win 116-112. In the second week of play in Argentina, Melina Niz was impressive, including a 32 effort to get her team a close win.
The Promotion Chase
The Israeli second division began play with the hope that there would be no promotion or relegation drama this season ahead of the league’s goal to be classified as professional next year. Another storyline to track this season by the end will be Helena Fedoulova’s bid to play at the age of 50 for Elitzur Yavne after her next birthday in April.
Tarsus lost their first game in Turkey’s second division, but they still hold a lead when it comes to promotion. Big games this week included 32 points each for Aliyah Mazyck and Olena Stashchuk. In Spain, Ferrol still has a two game lead on the field in the second division while Estepona lost both games this week despite great games from Ana Pocek in both contests. Katrin Stoichkova had a 30 point effort for Empoli in Italy’s second division as they try to bounce back immediately from the drop. There were a pair excellent games in the German second division as Olivia Nash had 40 points for Grunberg while Keylyn Filewich had 30 points for Bochum, the only undefeated team in either the North or the South.
Two rounds in Iceland’s second division meant more chances for spectacular games. Chloe Wanink had 31 points in a loss. Jenna Mastellone had the biggest scoring day with a 42 point outing. Thor had an easy 101-45 win over Breidablik that included 40 points from Hrefna Ottosdottir courtesy of 12 made three pointers and Madison Sutton recording a 20 point, 25 rebound, 12 assist triple-double. Schekinah Bimpa had a triple-double as well with 22 points, 22 rebounds, and 10 steals.
Notable Individual Performances
As usual, there were a number of impressive statlines around the world during the course of the week. Bulgaria’s Montana has put together a solid squad for the Adriatic competition, but it took overtime for them to win against Serbia’s Duga as they got 35 points from Monique Reid and 24 rebounds from Alexa Hart. Cup games were played in Sweden this week and Sodertalje has put together a strong roster of domestic players, but 36 points from Frida Eldebrink was not enough to advance against Lulea.
Dayzsha Rogan had a good week in Serbia with 8 steals on Thursday and 30 points on Saturday. In Romania, Biljana Pesovic had a 33 point game while Sara Hamson recorded 7 blocks. A special holiday midweek round in Portugal included Dayna Rouse scoring 30 points. In Norway, Tayler Bennett had 34 points in an Asker Aliens win while Julie McCarthy had 24 rebounds in her game. Luxembourg had their usual contributions to this section as Jovana Jaksic had 35 points in her game and Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman had another 32 points in a loss. Laura Okuneva just missed a triple-double in Latvia with 9 steals to go with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Ireyon Keith had 24 rebounds in Kosovo, but the best performance of the weekend there came from Sarah Mgbeike, who had 31 points, 20 rebounds, and 6 steals. Natalie Kleemann-Day had 32 points in a game in Finland. Young Ellada Gavrielidou had a nifty 23 point, 20 rebound game in Cyprus. In Croatia, Emilija Podrug missed out on a triple-double, but did still have 16 assists. Carlie Littlefield had 30 points for Liege in Belgium. Liliane Ikete has been impressive heading to Albania at her age and had 37 points in a win.