London Lions vs Villeneuve d'Ascq: The Ultimate Preview
Since last season, the London Lions women’s team have made British Basketball history with every EuroCup game played, EuroCup point scored, and EuroCup game won. This season, the fearless Lions hope to go beyond their historic feats of last season.
To do so, they must beat the 2015 EuroCup champions, Villeneuve d'Ascq, over two aggregate games in Round One of the FIBA EuroCup Women's Playoffs.
The upcoming showdown will be the third time this season that the Lions will take on Villeneuve after the two elite squadrons faced off against each other during Group J’s regular season games. The northern France-based team got the better of the reigning British champions in their first encounter, 59-80. However, London won the return game 67-60 on home shores.
Below are the players the fans should keep a close eye out for:
This time around, London’s squad will be boosted by the return of Swedish national player Paulina Hersler, who suffered an injury early in the season, keeping the 6’3” center out for over two months.
This boost will be felt in several areas, including team points production and rebounding, as Hersler averaged 15.5 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game last season in the EuroCup for Neve David Ramla. Paulina Hersler’s ability to set stone wall screens will make her a pick-and-roll threat, with either Holly Winterburn or Kennedy Leonard orchestrating head coach Mark Clark’s offensive sets.
London’s previous tough home victory over Villeneuve was led by 3-level Euro Cup scorer “Kiki” Herbert-Harrigan, who aligned her 20-point effort with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks whilst shooting 60% from the floor. The team’s leading scorer (17.2 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (5.7 rebounds per game) will be called upon to provide the Lions with this production level to beat Villeneuve d'Ascq.
Dynamic ball handler and double-double threat Holly Winterburn contributed 16 points and 9 assists to the Lions win 67-60 win against Villeneuve. The GB national player is top 10 in assists in the FIBA EuroCup, averaging 6.2 dimes per game. Winterburn has averaged 8.3 assists over the last three home games.
American Kamiah Smalls is one of ESBVA’s most prominent antagonists on the offensive end of the ball. The skilled shooting guard averaged 14.7 points per game during the regular season to the tune of an efficient 54.2% from the field, landing her in 15th place in field goal shooting in the EuroCup.
Hind Ben Abdelkader
Point guard Hind Ben Abdelkader gives ESBVA some added scoring punch in the backcourt. The Brussels native averages 13.4 points per game, which she compliments with 5.2 rebounds per game. The Belgium national player is also Villeneuve’s second-best 3-point shooter, connecting on 42.9% of her long-range shots.
Kariata Diaby is Villeneuve’s certified double-double threat. Although she has only recorded one double-double thus far this season, she currently averages 10.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, shooting an efficient 53.5% from the floor.