Ann Wauters

09 October 2006

Ann Wauters Ann Wauters has long been one of Europe's top players. A multiple EuroLeague Women title winner with Valenciennes and Samara, Ann's playing career has taken her to Europe, the USA and Korea. She has been a regular fibaeurope.com blogger since 2005. To learn more about Ann, visit her web site www.annwauters.be.

9th October 2006

Hi,

It has been a while… 

It was a busy summer for me! After winning the championship In South Korea with my Team Samsung I joined my national team.. 

We had to play the Qualifying rounds for EuroBasket Women 2007 in Italy. We were in a group with Latvia and Slovakia. Not an easy task.. 

We lost both our games against Latvia. They ended first in the group and were able to qualify. But we won both our games against Slovakia and were also able to qualify for Italy as one of the second best teams. 

I am happy to be present with my national team in Italy. I always listen to stories of my team-mates in Samara about the Olympics. I would love to be able to participate in the Olympics with my country. 

I followed the World Championship in Brazil on the internet. Many of my team-mates in Samara play for the Russian national team. It was a surprise to see them beat the United States. They were not able to win against Australia but I am sure that I will hear many stories in Samara of their victory against the United States. 

I am excited to join my team in Samara. We now play under the name CSKA. I got a message from Edwige Lawson this summer: “We are moving to Moscow.”  I also talked to Amaya Valdemoro about it. We thought they were moving the whole team to Moscow. But a phone call from the office from Samara informed us that we were staying in Samara. 

Not too many changes for the team, just the name. Svet Abrosimova is going to Moscow and she will be missed. Her and her dog ‘Lucky’ of course.

But we will have a good team this year and are ready to challenge the other teams or the Russian Championship and the Final Four. 

The Russian league is getting stronger every year. The teams in Moscow, Spartak, Dynamo and Ekaterinburg will be able to give the league a strong and exciting competition.

We will play against Dexia Namur with Samara in the EuroLeague Women. It is always a great pleasure for me to play in my own country.  And a great opportunity for friends and family to come and see me play.

I will go back to Samara in 10 days. This gives me time to see my friends, spend some time with my family, go to the movies, restaurant, and do some last shopping…for another cold winter. 

But I like my team and I will be happy to see everybody in Samara. 

Talk to you soon!

Ann Wauters

Ps: I will have a personal weblog with pictures that will be updated weekly on my web site, www.annwauters.be


5th August 2006

I just got back from Seoul, South - Korea. 

Our Samsung team won the WKBL Championship. We played the KB Savers in the final, the team of my teammate Maria Stepanova. 

We were able to beat them in 5 games (best of 5). We were leading the series 2-0 but they came back and won the next two games. 

The last and final game was played in the KB home gym in Cheonan.  It was one of the most intense finals that I have ever played. When it comes down to playing 5 games in the final, you can say both teams were deadly tired. I had to play Masha 5 times... 

We know each other so well so it makes it hard for the both of us to play against each other.    But my team hung in there and we got that WKBL title. 

I am proud of my team! 

Everybody thought we would give up after losing two games in a row. But we didn't, we came back strong and won that last and final game. KB Savers - Samsung Bichumi: 52 - 60

South - Korea is a country where they love sports. Women's basketball has the attention of the media. The finals were all live on tv. The Korean people have a big heart for sports. The WKBL is a very well organised professional league. The way we celebrated the title was amazing. After the final game we were given a ceremony to remember on the court. My team was so emotional, they are so grateful. 

 I was given the net to give to my little niece Kato.  I made this a tradition and she expects her Aunt Ann to come home and bring her the championship net.

We had a big championship celebration with the president of Samsung Life Insurance. It was at a traditional Korean restaurant where we ate 'Bulgogi' (korean beef) and drank Hite Beer and Soju. 

Afterwards we went to a club where we had a private room with the Samsung President to sing some Karaoke. 

I left the next morning back to Belgium. It was a long flight and I finally arrived late at night with 3 out af 4 bags still somewhere in London. But I just wanted to be back home. I will enjoy the month of August with friends and family.

I will join my national team at the end of August to qualify for the EuroBasket Women 2007 qualifying games.

Ann Wauters


9th June 2006

I am in South Korea for the moment. The season here is shorter and less physical on my body. The WKBL (Women's Korean Basketball League) was the perfect answer to combine a summer season and my national team. I still follow the WNBA and I don't exclude going back to it.

Maria Stepanova and Ann Wauters celebrating the title
Ann and Maria Stepanova are both in Korea - but not as teammates
I decided not to go back to New York this summer so I can play for my national team in September. We need to qualify for EuroBasket Women. It remains my dream to go to the Olympics.

I must say that I like it here in Seoul. The WKBL summer league has six teams. We compete against each other three times starting the season the 24th May until the 10th July. The play-offs start on 13th July and the championship is on the 20th July. So the last possible game is the 27th July. The six teams are located around the city of Seoul, so we travel by bus to the games.

My team lives in a complex in the heart of the city. I live across from the the players in an apartment. The other players live together in a dorm. They are well taken care of, they have people who cook and clean for them.  It is different from what we know in Europe.  But South Korea is a different culture.

You can find whatever you need in Seoul.  Restaurants, movies, malls ...  The traffic is terrible and I take a taxi to get around the city.

Communicating is the hardest thing for me. Everything goes through my translator. 

I have friends coming to visit and I stay in touch through the internet. Skype makes it easy for me to call friends and family by using the internet.

I just got cable tv, so I can follow the NBA finals. It's always exciting to watch the NBA play-offs. It might be the first time ever a Belgian guy wins an NBA title (Didier M'Benga). He is a part of the Dallas Mavericks team.

South Korea is playing the World Cup so we are seeing plenty of soccer on tv over here. Too bad Belgium wasn't able to qualify.

Maria Stepanova (KB) is also playing in Korea this summer. She lives 2 hours away so I haven't had a chance to see her yet. 

I try to keep in touch with most of the players.  It is hard with the time difference to get a hold of each other by phone.  But we stay in touch via email.


24th April 2006

This is the fifth year that I play together with Edwige Lawson. She is not only a great point guard but also a great teammate. I sat down with her recently and complied the following interview for fibaeurope.com.

1. Losing the final of the Final Four in Brno. Very disappointed?

It is very upsetting to lose in the final. You work hard the whole season and you get so close to win it. But I have to congratulate Brno on their season and their title.

It was hard on our team but we are focusing on winning the Russian Championship (Final Samara – Ekaterinburg) for the moment.

2. How is life in Samara (Russia)?

It is ok. There is not too much to do in the city but we are a great group of players who like to hang out with each other.

3. What do you expect from your trade to Charlotte in the WNBA?

It was a great experience to play for Houston last year. I learned a lot. The WNBA is the strongest league in the world. All the teams are strong and every game has to be played.
My first goal is to make the team in Charlotte. My second goal is to get some playing time and to help the team.

4. How do you prepare for a game?

First we eat with the team. Than I take a nap in the afternoon. And I listen to hip hop music.  I love the last cd of Mary J. Blige but my favorite song for the moment is Notorious BIG, ‘Nasty girl’.

5. If you could pick an All-Star team? Who would you chose?

Sue Bird, Sheryl Swoopes, Tamika Catchings, Lauren Jackson and Ann Wauters. Of course I wouldn’t mind being the point guard of this team..

6. What does your husband mean to you in your career?

James means a lot to me. He is always very positive and because he is also a professional basketball player we can always discuss the game. I really trust his opinion. James and my mom are the 2 persons in my life, who believe the most in me.

7. How can women’s basketball attract more people?

I think we have to start to promote our sport by little things. Each person, each individual club has to communicate more to attract people to come watch the game. We have to put individual effort, we can’t just wait until they will put our games on tv. I have my own website where I can communicate with my fans. (www.edwigelawson.com)

8. If you could choose 1 thing to make life easier in Samara, what would it be?

I would choose 2 months of sun!

9. What will you never forget about Russia?

First of all the snow… But secondly, I am really impressed by the way Russians can drink vodka!

Cheers Edwige!


13th April 2006

First of all I want to congratulate the team of Brno for winning the Final Four. They have had a great season!  It was tough to play against them in the final. Of course we are disappointed but I think we gave the people a great final.

Ann Wauters, Maria Stepanova and Edwige Lawson after the EuroLeague Women Final 2006
The 2006 Final Four proved to be a disappointing experience for Samara
I also want to give credit to Vilnius for their final four. We had to give 100% against them to beat them in the first game. Valenciennes also showed that they deserved a final four spot by finishing in third place.

One of the hardest things for us was to see Brno celebrate after the game. You sit on your bench and try to figure out what went wrong. You try to replay the game in your head.

After the official ceremony and a couple of interviews you talk about the game with your teammates and friends. And than it hits you pretty hard, we just lost the Final Four. Even after  losing it I still think it is the best tournament of the year.  And I know we will do our best to be back next year.

After the game I had a couple of white wines and was able to forget about our loss and enjoyed spending some time with old teammates.  I also got the chance to see the fans of Valenciennes which brought back great memories from my time playing there.

Our 'Big Boss' was at the airport to give us a present for playing in the final. It showed his appreciation and I thought that was a nice thing to do.

After a long day of travel we got back to Samara. Of course it is hard to get back on track but we don't have the time to think about it. We play our first play-off game tomorrow for the Russian Championship. Our goal is to win the Russian title. But it won't be easy. The Russian league has become one of the strongest in Europe.

I will keep you informed on the Russian Championship.

It has started to snow again in Samara...


16th March 2006

We all had a great time at the EuroLeague Women All-Star Game. First of all I think it is great that people are trying to promote our game by having a Year Of Women's Basketball.

Of course it is hard for us to compete against the men's game. But I don't think we are trying to compete. 

Maria Stepanova
Maria Stepanova dunks during the All-Star Game
We just want people to watch and enjoy our game. We have the same heart and desire to win every game. 

What I enjoy the most of watching a EuroLeague Women game is the team effort. To play together to achieve something. I am also very lucky to play for Samara where our team chemistry is great. I strongly believe that that is our strongest weapon to compete with the best. Women's basketball is all about setting goals and achieving them as a 'team'.

The All-Star game in Pécs was a great start. It was also great see some of my old teammates.  Sandra Le Dréan, Franzesca Zara, Vicky Johnson and Laurent Buffard.

It was also great see Macha Stepanova dunk during the game. She is having a great season and I was happy for her.

My favorite moment of the season is coming up. The Final Four. The Final Four is why we work so hard every day. The Final Four is my ultimate goal every season. It is the best tournament in Europe. The four best European teams competing against each other. I can feel the adrenaline rising just talking about it. 

This year the Final Four will be held in Brno.

The semi finals are:

Brno - Usvo
Samara - Vilnius

Brno has been strong and solid all season. By hosting the final, Brno they are clearly not hiding their ambitions. But Usvo has been playing great as well. I know Laurent Buffard and he is capable of doing great things with a team.

We will have to be ready for Vilnius. Last year we had a hard time against them here for the semi finals of the Final Four in Samara.

I am back in Samara at the moment. The sun is shining! The snow is melting..

We are playing UMMC Ekaterinburg this weekend in the Russian competition. 

Next week we go to Ekaterinburg to play the Russian Cup. The Russian cup is played with four teams: Dynamo Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Orenburg and Samara. 

The Russian cup is played in a great atmosphere. The gym will be packed which is always nice to play in. Last year Ekaterinburg beat us in the final.

Talk to you soon!!
Ann Wauters


11th January 2006

Hi,

Here I am again after our Christmas break and a long road trip to Siberia.

First of all I wanted to you wish you all a happy 2006!! I have enjoyed my time at home. It is always great to spend some time with friends and family during this break. Right after the break we had two games in Siberia. 

Laurent Buffard
Laurent Buffard is the new Belgian women's national team coach
Playing in Russia is always on adventure on the road... We had to take a night train for 13 hours and the outside temperature was - 25!

I am very happy to be back in Samara for the moment. December was a tough month for us, we were on the road most of the time.. But the team is doing good and we have a great team spirit!

We play against Prague tonight. The EuroLeague Women is much stronger than last year. The teams are better, the competition is stronger. This will make it harder for us to meet the expectations to go to the final four again like last year.

Belgian National Team

I have also decided to play for my national team to qualify for the EuroBasket Women 2007 in Italy and try to participate in the Olympics of 2008.  It is my ultimate dream to go to the Olymics. The Belgian national team is reorganising and trying to be more professional. They have also hired Laurent Buffard (coach Valenciennes) to be our new head coach. I am very excited to work with him again.

All Star Game and Player of the Year

I think it is great that FIBA Europe is organising an all star game in Pecs. Pecs is one of those cities where basketball is alive. Playing in Pecs in front of a full gym gives you the adrenaline that I love.

As for Player of the Year I would go for Dalma Ivanyi.  She is a point guard who makes her team better. That is a great quality as a point guard! She is also very consistent in her game.  She will give that pass that you need or take the shot when the team needs it. She is also not afraid to take responsibility!

I will talk to you soon,
Ann Wauters


6th December 2005

Hi everybody.

I know it has been a while since you heard something from me. I disappeared for a few months after my WNBA season. I spent some time with friends and family in Belgium after leaving New York with a fracture in my hand.

I enjoyed my much needed rest and at the same time my hand was able to heal. I couldn't do a lot of rehab on it but it was a perfect occasion to work on my physical conditioning.

I was expected in Samara for the beginning of the EuroLeague Women at the end of October.

It is my second season in Samara. We have two new players, Amaya Valdemoro and Nathalie Lesdema. Tania Shchegoleva went to Dynamo Moscow and Olga Naymushina went to Ekaterinburg.

Our goals are the same as last year. Win the Russian Championship and the EuroLeague. We all know this is going to be very hard. I think the teams got stronger this season. There is only one team undefeated this season: Pecs. We have to give this team and the coach credit for the way they are playing. We have to try to beat them this Wednesday here in Samara!!

My life here in Samara..

We all live in houses not far from the gym. We all get along really well and like to do things together. Like dinner parties, movie nights and russian pool!

The weather in Samara is ok for the moment, 0° and we have just a little bit of snow. Compared to last year, this is a dream. Samara is not the easiest connection in the world (I think many EuroLeague teams would agree..) and the travelling is hard at times. But we are well taken care of here in Samara and I love my team.

This year will be quite a challenge!

Talk to you soon,

Greetings,
Ann Wauters
#12


19th August 2005

Hi,

I am out for the rest of my season with a fractured bone in my hand. It happened during a game against Charlotte. I got pushed and suffered a bad landing on my hand. I am in a cast at the moment. 

It is a tough break for me to end my season in New York like that. 

My team is still playing for a play-offs spot while I have to watch them play from the bench. This is always hard on a player. You are still a part of the team but it is different. I go to the practices and games and try to be as supportive as possible.

I enjoyed playing in tha WNBA this summer. This has been my best season in this league. I give credit to my team and coaches. They way Becky Hammon carries this team is unbelievable. Hopefully Europe will enjoy her game in the future.

Making the all-star team this season was a great experience. I was picked by the coaches, a nice way of knowing that they appreciate my game.

But I am looking forward to being at home in Belgium. I have had one week in Belgium in between my season in Russia and my season here in New York. That is very hard to go from one season to the other like that. 

My season here in New York has been quite physical so I will enjoy some much needed rest.

I have been following the qualifying games in Europe on the internet. Margo Dydek (Connecticut) went home to play for her national team for a week. And Maria Stepanova (Phoenix) will join her national team before ending the season here in the WNBA. I hope there will be a better understanding between the Wnba and Europe in the future.

I will be back playing in Samara next season. I have been buying tv series together with Edwige Lawson (Houston), Svetlana Abrosimova (Minnesota) and DeMya Walker (Sacramento) to watch during the hard Russian winter. 

We will stay in touch.

Greetings
Ann Wauters


1st August 2005

Ann turns interviewer once again this month in the latest instalment of her exclusive fibaeurope.com diary. After hooking up with WNBA team-mate Elena Baranova for a chat in her last entry, this time Ann sits down with San Antonio and Hungarian national team point guard Dalma Ivanyi for the following Q&A.

You went to college in the United States. How did you get from Hungary to the USA to go to college? Does this experience help you to adjust to the WNBA game?

Ivanyi: I went to college in Miami, at Florida International University. I got a basketball scholarship there. In 1994 at the Junior European Championship the coaches saw me play, liked me and offered me this chance to go to the USA.  I was very happy and didn't hesitate to accept it. I think playing in college helped me a little bit to adjust to the WNBA, because the style is the same. Physical, lots of one-on-one and quick.

Last year we played the EuroLeague Women Final Four together in Pecs, Hungary.  Basketball is very popular there. I remember your fans. How do you like playing for Pecs, for such a great fan base?

Ivanyi: Pecs is like my second home, I love it there! I love the people, my teammates and the whole city! I think it is really important and helpful when so many people cheer for us and like what we do. Those fans can really help us when we need it, and can turn the game around. It is an experience which will be with me all my life! Even our opponents say that they like to play in Pecs because the atmosphere is so good there!

This year Pecs made it to the Final Four in Samara, Russia. Is your team ambitious for next year? Will there be some changes to the team?

Dalma Ivanyi (MiZo-Pecsi)
Dalma Ivanyi
Ivanyi: Our team has pretty much the same goals every year. Win the Hungarian Championship and Cup and get to the Final Four in the EuroLeague Women! 

Every year is a new season with a different team, so it is a new challenge every time, and I think one of the keys to our success is that we have a bunch of good competitors and ambitious players. The team will change a little bit, but the core players will stay. I don't know the final roster yet, but I'm sure we will have a good team again!

We are both not playing for our national teams. Margo Dydek will probably go back to play 3 games for her national team (Poland). Maria Stepanova will also go back early to Russia. Do you think there should be a better understanding between the WNBA and the organisation of the European Championship?

Ivanyi: I really have no idea how they could work the schedule out, so that it can fit everybody. It is always a hard decision to make whether play for the national team or go to the WNBA. If it would be only the European Championship, it would be easier. It is the Qualification round that is at the same time as the WNBA. But I think this will be always a problem, and the hard part (choosing) will always be on the players' shoulders!!!

How is San Antonio?  How do you like playing there?

Ivanyi: I really like San Antonio, it is a great city, even though a little bit hot! But the fans are great and my team-mates are pretty cool.  Luckily I knew some of them before I got here, so it made the transition a lot easier!!!

You have won so many titles. What is your most special title as a player or as a team?

Ivanyi: It is so hard to compare the different titles and championships and I really don't like to do that! Every one of them is so special and has a different story to go with it!  I'm very proud of all of them! And if I can say, since basketball is a team sport I think I'm happier about the
results with the team than some of my individual awards. Because I know that in order to achieve those individual things I neede a great team behind me. But of course I'm very proud of my achievments and the awards reassure me that I"m doing something great and motivate me to strive for an even better performance!

What do you expect from life after basketball?

Ivanyi: I think I will be always involved with basketball, even after I have stopped playing. I'm thinking about coaching young kids. To give them all the things that I got from basketball and help them to become good players. I think about teaching too, but my plans are still not 100 % clear yet.  And of course I will have a family with 2 or 3 kids, so I will be very busy after basketball!

If your were manager (or coach) of a team and could chose 5 players, who would those five players be? Your dream team?

Ivanyi: Now, this is the hardest question! People always ask me this and most of the time I don't answer, because I can't! There are so many great players out there! But let me see, I will try to come up with a team! I will make it a European team though and if I can be a little bit selfish, I will put myself in the team too.

Ann Wauters (Belgium), Timea Beres (Hungary), Audrey Sauret (France), Natalia Vodopyanova (Russia), Dalma Ivanyi (Hungary). 


8th July 2005

Hi,

I just got selected for the WNBA All Star game. The 2005 WNBA All Star game will be played July 9th in Connecticut. It is a great honour for me to  particapte among the world's greatest players. I will enjoy every moment of it. 

I will let you know how it all went and will try to get you some inside stuff!

I am on the road for the moment. We play San Antonio and Los Angeles. So I came up with the idea to let you know more about the best European players who also compete in the WNBA. I didn't have to look too far to find one of the best, my own teammate here in New York, Elena Baranova.

Elena Baranova (DYNAMO MOSCOW)
Elena Baranova has plenty of ideas how to improve women's basketball
Elena has been a member of the Russian and Soviet Union National Teams since 1989 and has represented her nation in two Olympics. She has won the Olympics in Barcelona and the bronze medal in Athens. She has also won two silver medals in the World Championships ('98 Germany and '03 Greece).

She has won several European titles overseas playing in Russia, Italy, Israel, Turkey,..  Winning the Final Four in Bourges with Ekaterinburg and Ronchetti Cup with Chieti. She has many more personal titles to her name!

We took advantage of some of our free time and I put myself in the role of the interviewer. We are in a typical American restaurant, so I order a big hamburger and Elena goes for a steak.

You have achieved so many titles, which one is the most important one?

Elena Baranova: I was only 20 years old when I participated in my first Olympics. I was so proud being a part of the team and I couldn't believe that we had beaten the United States in the semi finals. It was great to come back home with a gold medal.

I was also very proud of winning the Ronchetti Cup with CSKA Moscow in '97. We had a very tough season, no sponsors, no money. But nobody left, we kept playing with heart and only for pride. We ended up winning.

What are the main differences between European basketball and the WNBA?

Elena Baranova: The WNBA is much more physical and is very competitive. There are no easy games. Each game has to be played. There is no difference between home and away games.  All the team are pretty much equal. This is not always the case in Europe.

What can be done, to improve European Basketball?

Elena Baranova: First of all we have to improve the EuroLeague Women. There are too many teams. We used to have a championship cup where only the champions of every country could participate. It was very prestigious and only the 12 best teams could play. So it was a high level of basketball, which was interesting for fans, players and sponsors. Secondly we need to work better with our young players. They are our future. We have to give them more international experience.

What can we do to make women's basketball more popular?

Elena Baranova: We could organise a European All star game. More games should be broadcasted on tv. There should be more club exchanges, so more international tournaments (like the 5 star tournament in Toulouse).

You haven't signed for a European team for next season.  Where do you think you will play? When will you decide?

Elena Baranova: First I want to take some time off after the WNBA season, but after that I definitely want to play somewhere.

What would you like to do after your basketball career?

Elena Baranova: I would like to coach kids and have a family.

Who will be the WNBA Champion in 2005?

Elena Baranova: Difficult question. Anything can happen in the WNBA. Everybody can still win and lose against each other. But I will go for the New York Liberty!

I enjoyed doing my first interview. To be continued..

greetings,
Ann Wauters


24th June 2005

Hi,

I am back to tell you guys some more about my life as a WNBA player. First I would like to explain the competition in the WNBA. We have two conferences; the East with 6 teams and the West with 7 teams.

Eastern Conference: Connecticut, Indiana, Detroit, New York, Washington and Charlotte.

Western Conference: Sacramento, Seattle, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Houston, Phoenix and San Antonio.

We play every team in our conference (East) 4 times. Two games at home and two away. We play the teams of the West 2 times. That means we play 34 games in about 100 days. Quite a schedule!  The WNBA play-offs start august 30th.

Manu Ginobili (Argentina)
I love Manu Ginobili's game!
I must tell you that the WNBA is a real competitive competition. Every game is a battle. There are no easy games in the WNBA. That is what I really like about it. As a player you remember the games you won by 1 or 2 points or by overtime, you don't remeber the games where you win by 30. I love the tough ones.  In Europe we sometimes have too many easy games.

They show 22 games of the WNBA schedule on national tv. On July 9th there is the All-Star game in Connecticut. For the moment Connecticut (Katie Douglas, Taj Mc Williams-Franklin, Margo Dydek, Lindsay Whalen) and Sacramento (Yolanda Griffith, DeMya Walker, Ticha Penicheiro) are leading their conference.

Here we have had 5 out of 9 games at home. Our record: 5 w and 4 L for the moment. So I have been spending most of my time in New York. We usually practise once every day for about 2 hours. Than we are in the weight room and watch film to get ready for the next team we are playing. Coaches are very well prepared here. They analyse every move in offense and defense on our own game and on the other teams. I am still working hard to adjust to the
game over here. It is much more physical and I believe it makes you a better player. A more complete player.

What do we do on our free time? Well yesterday we had the day off and I decided to go to the city. We took a speed boat ride to the Statue of Liberty. I don't like to sit for long or to walk for hours so this 30 minute tour on the speed boat along Manhatton to the Statue was perfect. We were also able to take some nice pictures. Afterwards we went to the NBA store on 5th avenue. But it took us 2 hours to get out of the city with the car. Traffic in NY can be terrible. So next team I will take the train into the city.

Tonight is the final of the NBA finals. San Antonio - Detroit. I have been watching the finals on tv and have become a huge fan of Manu Ginobili. I love his game, he plays with so much heart!  So hopefully they will win tonight!

Talk to you soon!

Ann


7th June 2005

First of all I would like to say some words about my season with Samara. We have won the Final Four and the Russian Championship this year. I think that we have proven that we are more than 10 good individual players, we are a TEAM. The results are there. I am very proud of what we have accomplished as a team with Samara.

Ann Wauters (Samara)
Ann in action with Samara
The EuroLeague is a great, intense competition. Getting to the Final Four is my favorite challenge of the year!

You finish your season with Samara, the Russian league, EuroLeague and there it is. The challenge to play in the WNBA. Some people call it the strongest league in the world. You are young and you want to do it all. 

But I just want to say it's not that easy to go from one season to the other. My body needs to rest but also mentally you need to get away from basketball for a while. I had ten days with my family and friends before coming to New York.  I enjoyed that time very much. It is not always easy to be apart from family and friends when you are a professional athlete. 

Don't get me wrong, I was able to make my job out of my passion and I will always be grateful for that.

New York

I am in New York for the moment. I play for the New York Liberty together with Edwige Lawson (editor's note: Lawson is Ann's team-mate in Samara and a French international). 25% of the WNBA players are international players.

Here are a few players

Russia: Svetlana Abrosimova & Natalia Vodopyanova
Czech Republic: Kamila Vodichkova
Congo: Mwadi Mabika
Portugal: Ticha Penicheiro
Hungary: Dalma Ivanyi
Australia: Lauren Jackson & Suzy Batkovic
Lithuania: Jurgita Streimikyte
France: Edwige Lawson
And many more..

The WNBA game is a quick, physical basketball game. It is very different than playing in Europe but I believe playing in the WNBA makes you a better player.

Last year I wasn't able to play because of my injury. This summer I am a 100 % and ready to go for it. We have lost our two first home games.

Playing for New York at Madison Square Garden is something special. We had +/_ 12,000 fans at the Garden on opening night. Fans in New York are great.

Hopefully we can give them some wins soon.

My life in New York.

We live outside of the city right by new training facilities for the New York Rangers, Knicks and for us. The training facilities are great, you have everything you need in one complex.

On game days we practise at the Garden in the morning and stay in a hotel on Times Square during the day to get some rest before the game.

I enjoy being in New York. The city has so much to offer. Shopping, great restaurants, broadway shows, malls, outlets,... I am also watching the NBA play-offs on tv. I think the final will be Detroit - San Antonio.

1st of June:

We are on the road. We have won our first game yesterday against Washington. The Washington Mystics have some players who have experience playing overseas: Murriel Page (Valencia), Delisha Milton (Barcelona), Nakia Sanford (Dexia) and Chasity Melvin. We really needed this win. Our team took the train from New York to Washington ( a 3 hour
ride).

I am now on the plane to Detroit where we will play on Friday. Detroit has been playing really well. They haven't lost a game. I hope we can break their winning streak.

New York has waived Edwige Lawson. I am really disappointed but I know that she will do a great job in Houston (Houston picked her up right after she was waived by New York). Sheryl Swoopes plays for Houston as well.

Talk to you soon,

Ann

For more information about Ann Wauters, visit her web site at www.annwauters.be.


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