Russia Great Stepanova Headed For Ekaterinburg

06 November 2008

The face of Russian women's basketball for the past decade, center Maria Stepanova, has parted with CSKA Moscow and joined Superleague and EuroLeague  Women rivals UMMC Ekaterinburg.

CSKA and Ekaterinburg have confirmed that Stepanova, the FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year in 2005 and '06, have confirmed the 29-year-old has switched clubs.

"The contract was terminated by Maria's and the club's mutual consent," CSKA said in a club statement.

"By mutual arrangement of CSKA, UGMK and Maria Stepanova, the basketball player will play for Ekaterinburg."

Ekaterinburg also said in a statement on their website: "By mutual agreement of the UMMC and CSKA (Moscow) clubs, as well as of Maria Stepanova, the center will spend this season in Ekaterinburg, protecting the colors of UMMC, and playing as number eleven."

The 2.03m Stepanova, 29, was voted to the all-EuroBasket Women 2007 team after averaging 13.8 points and 10 rebounds in her country's march to the gold medal.

This summer, she scored 9.4 points and pulled down 6.5 rebounds as Russia won the bronze medal at the Beijing Games.

Stepanova has represented her country at the last four Olympics.

Her finest hour in the EuroLeague Women came in the 2004-05 campaign when she poured in 13.1 points and pulled down 10.4 rebounds while averaging 1.8 points to lead CSKA Volgaburmash to the crown.

CSKA have not won the title since, however, and last season they fell short of the Final Four after being upset by Ekaterinburg in the quarter-finals.

The club won their first game without Stepanova on Wednesday, an 81-77 come-from-behind triumph over MKB Euroleasing Sopron.

CSKA are not short of players in the low post with Belgium international Ann Wauters and big summer signing Janel McCarville, a player who has represented Team USA.

McCarville and Wauters combined for 39 points and 13 rebounds in the triumph over Sopron.

Ekaterinburg are one of just two teams that are undefeated in the EuroLeague Women at 4-0 after their 94-64 win at USK Prague on Wednesday.

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