|15 October 2013|
|Jelena Dubljevic appears to have put her injuries behind her and will be an integral component of a strong ZVVZ USK Prague outfit this season|
We take a look at the Euroleague Women prospects of Czech Republic champions, ZVVZ USK Prague.
Last Season: ZVVZ USK Prague finished fifth in Group B to squeeze into the play-offs, having lost their first three games of the regular season. They were denied a place at the Final Eight after being beaten by their nemesis Galatasaray, who had already beaten them twice during the first phase.
Significant Summer Departures: Powerhouse Rebekah Brunson and veteran point guard Jelena Skerovic.
Roster Review: The roster oozes lots of experience, although it is a pity Jana Vesela will be recovering from her ACL injury and won't be lining up. Kia Vaughn led the team in points, rebounds and blocks last season, so will be a leader again in the paint. Montenegrin Jelena Dubljevic and Czech national team forward Ilona Burgrova return, whilst Milka Bjelica comes in and has been around the EuroLeague Women block - unlike newly signed Belgian forward Evelien Callens who is an interesting addition. The frontcourt looks solid and the wings should be productive, especially with Czech legend Eva Viteckova rested after skipping EuroBasket Women in the summer. Katerina Elhotova would love to find a new gear in terms of her production and if she does, it could lift Prague to a new level. Layshia Clarendon is an exciting new arrival in the backcourt and the veteran hand of Laia Palau is also now in the Czech capital and that should help Lenka Bartakova to refine her game.
Headline Stealer: Dubljevic looks to finally be over the back problems which plagued her last season and if she shows anything like the scintillating form she displayed in patches during EuroBasket Women, she could be a game-changing and game-winning player this season.
Slipping Onto The Radar: With few unknowns in an experienced bunch of players, Clarendon will embark on her rookie pro-season outside of her homeland and make a bow in the competition. Ninth overall pick in the WNBA draft by Indiana Fever, she has a WNBA campaign behind her and head coach Natalia Hejkova has high hopes her unselfish outlook will be a big bonus and she will be instrumental in attaining success for the club.
Scanning The Schedule: Pitched into Group C, there are a reasonably balanced set of fixtures lying in wait and a chance to extract revenge on Galatasaray Odeabank, who effectively derailed their Final Eight hopes last year. They will be confident of beating everyone and could potentially even top a group which includes Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje, WBC Novi Zagreb, Perfumerias Avenida, CCC Polkowice and Kibirkstis-Vici Vilnius.
‘Twittertastic': Slim pickings, but check out @KIA_VAUGHN.
In Ten Words: Best opportunity so far to secure belated Final Eight debut.