By Jeff Taylor
If Nadezhda end up winning the EuroCup Women, Monique Currie will have had a lot to do with it.
As late-season signings go, she's been about as good as they come.
|Monique Currie is spicing up the Nadezhda line-up|
Heading into thesecond leg of the European title series with Sony Athinaikos, Currie, a former player at Lotos Gdynia, BC Moscow and Elitzur Ramla, has played in four of Nadezhda's EuroCup Women games and averaged 14.5 points.
She was vitally important in the second leg of the Quarter-Final against K.V. Imperial.
The tie hung in the balance late in the third quarter when she took over.
She split a pair of free-throws and followed with a three-ball to close the gap in the second leg to 51-44, which left the aggregate score tied.
When the fourth quarter got underway, Currie drilled a jumper.
The 27-year-old had eight of her game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter as Nadezhda prevailed 66-61 to earn a Semi-Final Date with Saarlouis Royals of Germany.
"I've only been here for two rounds of the Cup, but they have both been very competitive," she said to Basketball World News.
"My first game against the team from Cyprus (K.V. Imperial), I had only been here one week but they were able to include me in the system so that I could contribute to the win.
"It was very important to get past that round. Facing the team from Germany, which we were stronger than, we showed that no matter who our opponents are, we will step up to any challenge and play to the level that we are capable of.
"At this point, every team is very good so you have to find something that separates you from the rest."
One reason why Currie seems to have fit in well at Nadezhda is that she has experience in Russia.
"I really like playing in Russia because of its competitive league," she said.
"I played here two years ago so the familiarity is a bonus as well."
Been There, Done That
Currie should not have a case of stage fright against Athinaikos because she already knows what it's like to play in EuroCup Women Finals.
Her BC Moscow side lost to Beretta-Famila Schio in the 2008 Finals.
"This is my second time playing in the EuroCup Finals with a Russian team," she said.
"Unfortunately, the first one we lost and I took a lot of lessons from those games.
"In order to win, we must play defense!
"That is the only way to win a championship.
"They (Athinaikos) have several very talented players that we must attempt to contain. Our offense will come and defense helps to get that going, too."
No matter what happens in the second final, Currie has been left with a good impression of Nadezhda.
She believes the Orenburg outfit has great potential.
The club has been laying the foundation for success in the coming seasons.
It's not a foregone conclusion that UMMC Ekaterinburg and Spartak Moscow Region - the best sides in Russia in recent seasons - will also be on top.
"Anything is possible in the Russian league," she said.
|Sheana Mosch and Monique Currie played together in college and seem to fit in well together at Nadezhda |
"Of course, UMMC and Spartak have dominated the league but it hasn't been easy for either of them.
"If this team continues to build and add keys players, it is possible to compete with anyone."
A Duke Reunion
By signing with Nadezhda, Currie has linked up again with a former teammate in college, Sheana Mosch.
Both played at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and one might say the two have a special synergy when they are on the court together.
"It has been a pleasure playing with Sheana," Currie said.
"In college, we only played one season together but coming from the same Duke program gives us a lot of the same qualities. Mainly that is hard work. Sheana always works hard and that always makes everything a lot easier."