Murphy Records A Personal Best

14. Eshaya Murphy (Perfumerias Avenida)
Eshaya Murphy has returned to her best form with Perfumerias Avenida

By Paul Nilsen

When the curtain came down on the EuroLeague Women regular season, Eshaya Murphy was able to reflect with satisfaction on the most productive period of her career.

Emerging as a standout for Perfumerias Avenida with 18.7 points and 6.8 boards per game, the guard is riding another peak after experiencing a EuroLeague Women trough last year.

Crowned a EuroLeague Women champion with former Spanish juggernaut Ros Casares back at the first ever Final Eight in Istanbul during 2012, the guard eventually ended up playing her basketball in the same city the following season.

However, her experience at the 2013 Final Eight proved to be a far cry from the jubilation of 12 months earlier, as Galatasaray odeabank and Murphy left Ekaterinburg without a win to their name.

"Just playing for a powerhouse team like Ros Casares with such elite players as Maya Moore, Lauren Jackson, Ann Wauters, Laia Palau, and Sancho Lyttle, let alone winning the EuroLeague Women title, was a highlight of my career," she recalled.

"But the Final Eight last season was strange and I went from winning every game with Ros, to losing every game with Galatasaray, which was extremely odd and distasteful."

Murphy was pitched against her former team in the first phase of this year's competition and managed to help secure a famous win in Salamanca, with the rivalry re-ignited in the play-offs.

"There are pros and cons to playing Galatasaray again in the next round," conceded the 28-year-old.

14. Eshaya Murphy (Ros Casares)
Murphy won the inaugural EuroLeague Women Final Eight with Ros Casares

"The pros are flying five hours directly to Istanbul, which is a lovely city, with a comfortable arena and hotel. Also, having played them in the regular season could also be a positive thing for us.

"The cons are that Galatasaray are the power house. They have double the budget and double the veteran players.

"I'm certain that if Galatasaray wants to advance this time, they will have to have a better showing than during the Final Eight last year."

She added, "The same goes for my own team though and I am sure we will fight and compete with heart. I'm also looking forward to seeing my old teammates and friends that I have in Turkey again."

Taking stock of the regular season has been a pleasure and she's proud of the progress made.

"I think in general, the team is very happy and proud that we've qualified for the play-offs," she claimed.

"We were all aware at the beginning of the season it would be very difficult to compete against big teams such as Galatasaray, USK Prague and Sparta&K, due to signing young players without any Euroleague Women experience.

14. Eshaya Murphy (Perfumerias Avenida)
Murphy achieved a personal goal this season by winning the Copa De La Reina

"Although with that being said, the outcome has been pleasantly surprising.

"This year has also been a personal best for me so far and I'm really grateful to have a coach and teammates that allow me to play to my potential in every game.

"Although the season isn't over yet," she added with a smile.

The Californian native is hungry to deliver more success for the Liga Femenina leaders who remain on course for a domestic clean sweep.

Having already led the team to the Spanish Super Cup at the start of the campaign which made her an instant favourite at Pabellon Wurzburg, Murphy was relieved to finally break her Copa De La Reina jinx at the end of last month.

She explained, "Winning two titles this season is already down in my top five most memorable moments as a player.

"The Copa De La Reina has been something I've been wanting for five years, since I've lost twice previously, so winning it this year in overtime was an epic and an emotional experience for me that I will never forget.

"I would like to also win the Spanish Championship Final and of course qualify for the EuroLeague Women Final Eight again - although both tasks will be extremely difficult."

14. Eshaya Murphy (Perfumerias Avenida)
Murphyis excited about the prospect of playing for Montenegro this summer

The impressive form this year of Murphy will also be cause for considerable cheer in Podgorica.

She was recently recalled to the Montenegro national team by new head coach Momir Milatovic for the EuroBasket Women 2nd Qualifying Tournament, having not stepped out at the Final Round in France last year.

"It's an honour that I have been selected to represent the Montenegro National team this summer," confirmed Murphy.

"It will be an amazing opportunity to participate in qualification games against Finland, Germany and Ukraine.

"I am really looking forward to the experience, since I was very disappointed that I was unable to participate in France and that the team couldn't finish in the top five."

But at this stage, wearing the colours of Montenegro remains a speck on the horizon at this critical time of the year and it's EuroLeague Women which remains firmly in the foreground, as Murphy bids to secure her third successive Final Eight appearance with a third different club.


05.03.2014 - FEATURE

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