UMMC Ekaterinburg sent shockwaves across the European basketball landscape on Monday by announcing the signings of USA international Sue Bird, FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year for 2010 Hana Horakova and former FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year Anete Jekabsone-Zogota.
By prying away Bird from Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje, Ekaterinburg have signed one of the players to have led to their downfall in the last four EuroLeague Women Final Fours.
Sparta&K had wanted to keep Bird, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and recently crowned world champion, but could not match the terms offered by Ekaterinburg.
Horakova, who was MVP of the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women, just helped a Laszlo Ratgeber-coached Fenerbahce capture the Turkish title.
Jekabsone, the former Latvia national team star, has decided to go back to Russia where she played for Dynamo Moscow and then Sparta&K before leaving in the middle of this season to play for Fenerbahce.
Ekaterinburg have also announced that France international point guard Celine Dumerc and Slovakian Zuzana Zirkova are no longer with the team.
Zirkova joined the side late in the season from Good Angels Kosice while Dumerc played at UMMC for two seasons after helping France capture the EuroBasket Women 2009 title.
There are some holdovers for 2011-12 at UMMC, including Dumerc's France teammate Sandrine Gruda and USA international Candace Parker.
Gundars Vetra, however, is no longer the coach.
The Latvian parted ways with the club after the season and was replaced by Algirdas Paulauskas, who is also the Lithuania national team coach.