|Halcon Avenida head coach Lucas Mondelo (left) with his assistant Alberto Miranda. Mondelo considers winning the EuroLeague Women the biggest achievement of his career |
Halcon Avenida are basking in the glow of the club's first EuroLeague Women title triumph.
Back in Spain after beating Ros Casares in the Semi-Finals before ending the four-year reign of Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje in the championship game, one look at the players and coaches suggests it will be a very long time before the smiles disappear after their title-winning weekend in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
"It's my biggest professional achievement," Avenida coach Lucas Mondelo said.
"I have won medals with Spanish national teams and it's beautiful to bring them back to your country, but to win the EuroLeague is the maximum that you can achieve at club level."
Alba Torrens, the MVP of the Final Four, said: "There is a great relationship in the locker room between the players and that has been very important to achieve this success."
Mondelo pulled off the feat at the first attempt with Avenida.
He was only put in charge of the team after last season.
Mondelo was convinced he had a team of winners when they bounced back from their Copa de la Reina upset to Rivas Ecopolis.
Avenida and Ros Casares were supposed to meet in the final but Rivas had other ideas, beating both to lift the trophy.
"We had difficult times when we lost the Copa de la Reina," Mondelo said.
"We had a mountain to climb. We had to travel to Galatasaray, then go to Ibiza in the Spanish league and then host Spartak.
"We not only won the three games, but we did it convincingly and that was a sign that we could compete against the best, that we were able to go very far.
"I have a team made up of winning players.
|Final Four MVP Alba Torrens, aged just 21, is already a seasoned veteran at the international stage|
"When the difficult time took place, I just gave them confidence, saying what they could do well."
Beating The Best
Making the victory in Ekaterinburg all the sweeter was Avenida's triumph over Sparta&K.
The Russians had a quality team with a tradition of excellence, and a great coach.
"Tactically the Final Four was complicated and hard," Mondelo said.
"In the Final, we knew that (Sparta&K coach Pokey) Chatman was going to plan a great defense.
"We studied our rival and everything worked."
As for Torrens, she has achieved so much in her career and is still only 21 years of age.
Torrens represented Spain at the Beijing Games, EuroBasket Women 2009 in Latvia and at last year's FIBA World Championship for Women in the Czech Republic.
"I didn't think a moment like this would arrive," she said.
"It has been a long journey and step by step, the aims have been accomplished.
"I hope I can continue to improve and have further aims.
"All the stages in my career, whether in the youth team or senior teams, have been important."
Torrens recognizes that a lot of work has been put into women's basketball in her country.
"The level in the Liga Femenina is one of the strongest in Europe," Torrens said.
"This year, we have had three Spanish teams in the EuroLeague.
"A great job is being done by the clubs and the federation."