By Cindy Garcia-Bennett, PA International
Lavezzini Basket Parma boss Miodrag Veskovic has a very good reason to expect his team to contend for honours in the EuroLeague for Women.
Her name is Anastasia Kostaki.
The 1.72m Greek point guard who made headlines by leading her country into the quarter-finals of the Olympics for the first time this summer is an explosive offensive player.
She didn't back down against anyone.
Against powerhouses Team USA in the quarter-finals, Kostaki had 26 points and eight assists.
She made shots from all over the court, whether it was driving to the basket or pulling up from three-point range - she was three of six from behind the arc.
At the free throw line, she was nine of 10.
Parma's veteran power forward Svetlana Koutznetsova, the former Russia star who turns 40 years old in January, says the arrival of Kostaki has helped create a good mood in the camp.
"We are more competitive than last season," she said.
"We have the potential to do well, we have quality players and young players that have more experience now, thus, they will give more for this team than last season."
It's easy to see how a player of Kostaki's calibre will help a club that has achieved great things in the past but only won three of of 14 games last season in Group B.
Parma may have the finest backcourt in Italy and one of the best in Europe because in addition to Kostaki, Serbo-Montenegrin international Gordana Grubin has returned. She averaged 20.5 points a game last season in Europe.
While Kostaki is 26 and in the prime of her career, Koutznetsova is in the twilight of hers.
"I intend to give everything when I am given the opportunity to play and I cannot be but enthusiastic that this club is continuing to put their trust in me," said Koutznetsova, who averaged five points a game in Europe last term.
She truly enjoys her Italian experience.
"Basket Parma is like my second home," she said.
Parma entertain VBM-SGAU Samara in their first EuroLeague Women game on November 4.