Storm stars Tanisha Wright and Camille Little are making a little history for their Turkish team during the WNBA offseason. They didn’t aim to play together for Kayseri Kaski spor this winter but their respective agents were able to work deals that ended up with them both headed to Turkey and they’re continuing their championship-caliber play there, too.
Wright has been the leader of the two, guiding Kayseri to its first EuroLeague playoff in the club’s first season competing in the premier league overseas. One of the wins headed into the 6-4 EuroLeague finish to qualify was an upset against Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi’s Russian UMMC Ekaterinburg team.
Storm PG Sue Bird doesn’t compete in EuroLeague play for UMMC due to limitations on Americans per team. FIBA recently made a rule that you have to compete as the same nationality as the national team you play for in competitions like the Olympics, so Bird’s Israeli passport does not give her a pass to play for UMMC’s EuroLeague team. Bird competed in UMMC domestic-league games.
Eighth-seeded Kayseri won its best-of-three ELW series debut, 63-50, at home against ninth-seeded Beretta Famila Schio on Tuesday. Wright had a near triple-double with 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Little had 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The leading scorer for Kayseri was F Lara Sanders (17 points and 14 rebounds).
Sanders is better known in America under her maiden name LaToya Pringle. She was drafted by Phoenix in 2008 and last played in the WNBA for Los Angeles in 2011. Sanders played college ball at North Carolina with Little and was born in Germany, obtaining her Turkish citizenship in 2012. Whew.
Game 2 for Kayseri and Schio is Friday in Italy. Free live streaming video of the 8pm (PT) game is available.
The goal of the 14-team field is to be one of the seven to advance to the Final Eight in Ekaterinburg in April. UMMC automatically qualifies because it is the host team, but it dominated EuroLeague play anyway.
Here are some highlights from the Kayseri win:
In other ELW games with Storm players, F Tianna Hawkins was 2-for-7 from the field for eight points in No. 13 seed UE Sopron’s 81-43 loss to fourth-seeded Sparta&K;MR Vidnoje. The best-of-three series continues Friday at Sporon (Hungary). Here are some highlights: