If anyone knows how far Rivas Ecopolis have come in the world of women's basketball, it's Elisa Aguilar.
The veteran Spanish international point guard once played against then, running up and down the court while calling the plays for Ros Casares for many years.
|Elisa Aguilar says she enjoys every minute playing for Rivas Ecopolis|
Before the 2010-11 campaign, when Aguilar was surplus to requirements with the Valencia team, she left for Rivas and has ever since been helping the Madrid side make headlines.
Last year, it was the surprise triumph in the Copa de la Reina while on Wednesday night, Aguilar scored nine points in a 64-56 victory over Bourges that helped Rivas pass the first stage of the EuroLeague Women play-offs for the very first time.
The reward is a trip to the season-ending Final Eight.
If it was tough to get this far, and Aguilar knows it's going to be even harder to win games in Turkey.
"In Istanbul, we will face two Turkish teams at their home, and an Italian one, but we will give our all even though we will be considered outsiders," Aguilar said.
"We want to be the princess that ends up with the prince after the party."
Defense Never Rests
Bourges are not the most polished team offensively, but Rivas nevertheless had to cope with their hot-shooting Catherine Joens and the powerful frontline that includes France internationals Endene Miyem and Emmeline Ndongue.
"Defense was crucial," Aguilar said. "To only allow Bourges to score 56 points was important.
"We trusted our defense and we were strong on rebounds.
"Thanks to that confidence, we were able to get good attacks and everything went our way."
Rivas are winning fans with their outstanding play.
An Unheralded Squad
The team coached by Miguel Martinez Mendez has exciting young Spanish players like Anna Cruz and Laura Nicholls, and veterans Aguilar and Amaya Valdemoro.
There is a great American player in Asjha Jones, an unheralded Slovenia center in Sandra Pirsic and a high-scoring, relentless shooting guard/small forward in Essence Carson.
Rivas have been fearless in the EuroLeague against established teams like Bourges.
There were many who believed that the French side would have too much experience, and power, to overcome.
"We have achieved something that was very difficult," Aguilar said.
"We're not a big club but one that is growing and to reach the Final Eight is a huge success.
"Defending champions (Perfumerias) Avenida were eliminated and that just highlights how challenging this competition is.
"We are aware of the giant step we have taken but we don't want to stop here.
"We have to continue to work hard because we have many things to achieve."
Every year for Aguilar has been special and she is still loved in Valencia by the fans, who applaud her whenever she returns to La Fonteta to take on Ros Casares.
There is something special happening at Rivas, though, and getting to the Final Eight is proof.
"I have experienced Final Fours with Ros Casares but it has an extra flavor to do so with Rivas because it's a young team that is in the growing process.
"I bring experience to the team and I will try to continue to help in that respect.
"I am full of enthusiasm."