By Paul Nilsen
|Seimone Augustus was the topscorer for Sparta&K in EuroLeague Women 2012.|
The dust has barely settled on the first ever Final Eight but former four-time EuroLeague Women champions Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje have already made a statement of intent for next season.
Having recently secured the services of their highly rated play-caller Pokey Chatman for at least one more year, the club has swooped to tie down two of their prize assets in the form of talented American duo Seimone Augustus and Candice Dupree.
Both players have enjoyed a fruitful first season in Moscow and indeed they still have business to take care of before the summer as the domestic season in Russia prepares to reach its climax.
Speaking about being invited back for a second campaign, Augustus (who poured in 16.9 points per game in EuroLeague Women this season) was thrilled to have struck a deal which will see her continue working with Coach Chatman.
She said, "I am enjoying this season with Sparta&K and that is one of the reasons I am excited to come back here next year.
"I have known Pokey (Chatman) for a long time and she knows how to get the best out of me.
"What also helped my final decision was the fact that at Sparta&K, we are like one family and the club cares about all its players."
Dupree meanwhile also expressed her delight at returning although she reminded everyone there is still work to be done in coming weeks before EuroLeague Women comes around again.
"I'm so excited about playing for Sparta&K again next season," explained the forward.
"I've really enjoyed playing for such a great organisation and I look forward to finishing out this season strong and then accomplishing even more next season."
Not surprisingly, Coach Chatman is looking forward to having her key duo available once more for the 2013 EuroLeague Women season.
She said, "It's easy to state the obvious when discussing Seimone and Candice and their ability on the basketball court.
"They're both winners and more importantly have the gift of making those around them better.
"It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to coach Seimone again, albeit at the pro level, where she has grown to be one of the best in the world.
|Candice Dupree looks forward to another season with Sparta&K.|
"The versatility and understanding of the game from Candice will continue to keep her at the elite level," continued Chatman.
"I'm fortunate to once again have them on my roster and part of the Sparta&K family."
"Both signings were easy because all parties involved really wanted to continue together for at least one more season. We had agreed a long time ago but we waited for the right time to finalise the respective agreements."
It's a real coup for the club to not only sign their in-demand coach for another year but also to retain the talented Augustus and Dupree - a fact not lost on CEO Anna Arkhipova Von Kalmanovic and General Manager Steve Costalas.
Both are really happy now the players have put pen to paper with Costalas explaining, "We are especially happy to have such accomplished athletes who at the same time are an example for all the young girls in our farm system and our Sparta&K Olympic Reserve School."
"Seimone Augustus was the 2011 WNBA Finals MVP, has won an Olympic gold medal in 2008 with Team USA and has already been selected to the 2012 Olympic Team while Candice Dupree has won a World Championship gold medal with Team USA."
Arkhipova Von Kalmanovic added, "It has been a pleasure having both these great players with us this season and both had a lot with us reaching the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
"We are sure that they will continue helping us this season and hopefully next season we will have even more success together.
"They have been a great influence for the whole organisation."