By Jeff Taylor
Spartak Moscow Region will go after a fifth EuroLeague Women crown next season with at least several of the players that helped the club win its first four.
The Russian club has also confirmed that Pokey Chatman turned down opportunities from other big clubs and will return to Spartak for another campaign, along with her coaching staff from this season.
Basketball World News has learned that USA point guard Sue Bird is returning for a fifth year at Spartak, along with 2007 FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year Anete Jekabsone-Zogota of Latvia and 2007 FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year Sonja Petrovic of Serbia.
Irina Osipova and Marina Karpunina, lynchpins in Spartak's four European championship-winning teams, are among several Russian internationals coming back.
Russia's Tatiana Shchegoleva, who decided to take a break from the game this season, has decided to come back while the club is negotiating with Ilona Korstin over her possible return.
A Spartak reserve on the EuroLeague title-winning side of 2009, Bulgaria international Noell Quinn, is expected to rejoin Spartak for the coming campaign and the club has been in talks with Janel McCarville although it's unclear if she will be back.
Spartak general manager Steve Costalas says the club is negotiating with two other excellent players that will be major contributors if they sign.
The EuroLeague Women Final Four MVP of the last two years, Diana Taurasi, and USA international center Sylvia Fowles, are expected to play in Turkey in 2010-2011.
That will make UMMC Ekaterinburg favorites heading into the Russian competitions.
They will also be among the favorites to reach the EuroLeague Women Final Four.
UMMC won the Russian Cup by beating Spartak in the final, but the Moscow Region club hit back by capturing the EuroLeague Women title after defeating UMMC in the semi-finals on April 9 in Valencia and then hosts Ros Casares two days later.
The celebrations were spoiled somewhat by the Russian Superleague Women Finals with defending champions UMMC sweeping Spartak in three games.