Bourges Basket have a proud tradition in the EuroLeague Women with seven top-four finishes since 1997, including three titles.
The last European championship captured by the French outfit was in 2001.
While the club made Final Four appearances in 2007 and 2008 and also reached the Quarter-Finals last season, Bourges are finding it very difficult this season with just two victories from six games in Group C.
One of the players hoping to put things right at Bourges is their summer signing from Ravenna Esperides, Stella Kaltsidou, a Greece international who played a huge role in her national side's successful EuroBasket Women campaign in Latvia.
Greece overcame heart-breaking defeats to Poland (62-60) in the Preliminary Round and France (51-49) in the Quarter-Finals to book a first-ever trip to the FIBA World Championship, a competition that will be staged in the Czech Republic next year.
Stella, 26, gave this interview to Jeff Taylor of Basketball World News and FIBA Europe.
Stella, it seems just like yesterday that you were dancing for joy on the Arena Riga court with your Greece teammates after coming from behind to beat Italy 60-56 to clinch fifth place at the EuroBasket Women. What was the biggest lesson you learned at the tournament?
|Kaltsidou was a key to the Greek run to fifth place at the EuroBasket Women in Latvia.|
Stella Kaltsidou: The biggest lesson from this EuroBasket is that when you believe in something a lot and you work hard for it, you can achieve it. You have to make small targets, never give up on your dreams and fight until the last moment. The most important thing is every time to feel that you did your best at the end, no matter the result. That's what we did this summer. When this EuroBasket started, our target was to qualify for the second round. Nobody believed that at the end, we would take the place for the World Championship. But we all believed in this team and we work hard every day. During the EuroBasket, fifth place became a dream and then a target. And even if luck wasn't on our side at any moment, we were successful making our dream become true.
Had a Coach of the Tournament award been given in Latvia, do you think your coach, Kostas Missas, would have been worthy of receiving the honor?
Stella Kaltsidou: If a Coach of the Tournament award had been given in Latvia, I'm sure that there are a few coaches who would have been worthy of receiving it. Without wanting to underestimate any of them, I'm sure that our coach, Kostas Missas, and his team (George Dikeoulakos and Andreas Mauros) deserved very much to receive this award. They worked so hard all day and all night to find the best tactics for every game and to give us the solutions to every possible problem that we could face. We were a weak team, physically, fast but short without the classic center, but strong mentally. So by finding every time the right tactics for every game, we were successful turning our disadvantage into an advantage! If anyone takes a look at our games at this EuroBasket, it's easy to understand they are worthy of this award.
Has the experience at Bourges been a good one for you so far in terms of your development as a player?
Stella Kaltsidou: Bourges is a really good experience for me. The level of EuroLeague and French league also is really high and the way that the team works helps me to improve and mature as player day by day.
How tough is the EuroLeague Women?
Stella Kaltsidou: The EuroLeague is really competitive. It is a very hard championship with really good teams where the best players of Europe are playing.
From Greece to France - what is Bourges like as a city? Is this a good place to live and is the club well supported by fans?
Stella Kaltsidou: For sure there are a lot of differences for me on the way of life between Greece and France. Bourges is a very calm and beautiful city. I think it is really an ideal place to live and play basketball. It helps to be focused on your job and work more. People are always next to the team and they support us, not only at home but away also, during the good and the bad moments and this is very important for us.
I have some non-basketball questions for you. First of all, who is your favorite Greek actor?
Stella Kaltsidou: The actress I can say that is my favorite is Julia Roberts. I like a lot of actors, Greek but not only, but I can't mention someone special at the moment.
What is your favorite kind of music and which group or singer do you listen to the most?
Stella Kaltsidou: I like to listen to different kinds of music! The only kind that I can't stand is metal or hard rock! I like Greek music a lot and especially now that I'm out of my country, but I listen to English songs a lot also! Two of my favorite Greek singers are Alkistis Protopsalti and Anna Vissi.
Have you tried escargot yet? Are you a fan?
Stella Kaltsidou: Escargot.... I haven't tasted them yet but for sure I will. I like to try new tastes and I have already tried some (other new things). Snails are one of my next targets (smiles).
Okay, back to basketball. Who is the best player that you have ever competed against?
Stella Kaltsidou: The best player that I have ever competed against....I would prefer to tell you after the World Championship.
Give us a prediction. Will we see the Greek women dance on the court in the Czech Republic next year at the FIBA World Championship?
Stella Kaltsidou: I really can't make a prediction about the World Championship. We have never played (in it) before so we don't have the experience. The first thing is to have all the players healthy. We all have a big motivation so the only thing that I can say is that we will do our best and that everybody will pay attention to Greece.