Umana Reyer, Maxima Kosice In Fine Fettle

31 October 2008

Hopes were high heading into the campaign in Venice and Kosice that Italian outfit Umana Reyer and Slovakian club Maxima Broker would compete with the best teams in Europe.

But no one expected the teams to have an unbeaten start three games into the season.

Only four teams are still undefeated in the EuroLeague  Women and two of them are Umana Reyer, a team that wasn't even in the competition one year ago, and Kosice.

Russian powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg and French giants Bourges, two teams that reached the Final Four last season, are the others.

"We are a team that uses its group as the winning weapon," Umana Reyer coach Massimo Riga said.

TTT Riga became the latest victim of Umana Reyer this week when they lost their showdown in Venice, 74-65.

Umana Reyer should get even better as the season goes along.

They are expecting big things from Licia Corradini, a 22-year-old point guard who plays for the national side.

Corradini isn't fully fit.

"We still have to recover Corradini, who is struggling with a minor injury problem and then we will have a complete team in every aspect," Riga said.

Another who is making a big impact is Simona Ballardini, who led the Azzurre in scoring this summer at 12 points per game when they earned a place in next year's Additional Qualifying Round for the EuroBasket Women 2009.

"From a personal point of view, I can only say that I'm slowly adapting having not played for a year," she said.

"It's not easy to integrate into a new team. The positive thing is that we have a complete group that doesn't depend on individuals but can count on every player to contribute.

"We will take it one step at a time, aware that the road is long and that we have and we must still improve."

Kosice lost Janell McCarville to CSKA Moscow but they appear to be even better this year.

One of the keys to their success so far has been Germany international Linda Frohlich.

But they also have an explosiveness to their game on offense that was missing in recent seasons now that Sidney Spencer, Liron Cohen and Catherine Kraayeveld are in the fold.

Spencer is leading the team in scoring in Europe at 18.7 points per game, with Cohen second (16.7pts ) and Kraayeveld third (16.3).

Frohlich (11pts) is doing a lot of the dirty work. She is pulling down almost nine rebounds per contest in the EuroLeague Women.

Daniel Jendrichovsky, the Maxima Broker general manager, had spoken with great enthusiasm about his team in an interview with FIBA Europe after their performance in a warm-up tournament in Sopron.

"Along with six Slovak national team players, we can be very competitive," Jendrichovsky said.

"Liron and Linda showed their quality in Sopron, and they were leaders - just as we expected. Two Americans are sharp shooters and if they adjust to the team quickly, we can expect good results."

It appears that all of the newcomers have adjusted quickly.

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Schio, ITA
Istanbul, TUR
Bourges, FRA
Kosice, SVK
Moscow, RUS
Villeneuve d'Ascq, FRA
Istanbul, TUR
Brno, CZE
Salamanca, ESP
Sibenik, CRO
Gdynia, POL
Pécs, HUN
Sopron, HUN
Orenburg, RUS
Valencia, ESP
Vidnoje, RUS
Kaunas, LTU
Riga, LAT
Venezia, ITA
Verkhnyaya Pyshma, RUS
Valenciennes, FRA
Krakow, POL
Prague 7, CZE