|Sue Bird is still familiarizing herself with the new surroundings in Ekaterinburg but as for her teammates at UMMC, she already knows some of them quite well|
FAMILIAR FACE FOR BIRD AT UMMC
Sue Bird's decision to accept a contract offer and play for UMMC Ekaterinburg after spending the previous several seasons at Sparta&K Moscow Region has given her new club reason to believe this may finally be their year to lift the EuroLeague Women title.
UMMC have reached the last four Final Fours and each time came up against Bird in the semi-finals and lost.
In one of those defeats, at the 2010 Final Four in Valencia, Bird played alongside Anete Jekabsone in the Sparta&K squad.
Now Bird and Jekabsone find themselves on the same team again.
Jekabsone left Sparta&K for Fenerbahce last season but then found her way to Ekaterinburg.
"Anete is a great player," Bird said.
"I was lucky enough to play with her at Sparta&K and now to rejoin her at Ekaterinburg.
"She can hurt you in so many ways.
"She's a great shooter, great penetrator, very, very quick, very fast and I really enjoyed playing with her.
"I'm glad she's on my team."
Since Bird's arrival, Jekabsone, the 2007 FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year, has played well - at least offensively.
She had 14 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes in this week's 87-69 victory over ZVVZ USK Prague.
In her first game with Bird, a win at VICI Aistes, Jekabsone played 26 minutes and had 15 points, two assists and two rebounds.
If Jekabsone is a familiar face, it's going to take some time to get used to UMMC for Bird because she spent several years with Sparta&K, winning four EuroLeague Women titles and reaching the Final last season.
It will also take a while to get used to living not in Moscow, but in Ekaterinburg.
"Obviously it's two different cities," she said.
"Moscow is a little bit bigger but much more traffic.
"I definitely don't miss the traffic.
"So far, I'm really enjoying my time, getting used to the city, learning the restaurants and knowing where the mall is, it's been fun so far."
Jekabsone is not the only former teammate Bird has rejoined.
She has also played alongside UMMC's Svetlana Abrosimova, one of the leading Russia international players, at both Sparta&K and in the WNBA with Seattle.
Fellow USA national team star Candace Parker is also on the books of UMMC.
RIVAS REUNITE GARCIA WITH MENDEZ
Rivas Ecopolis have signed one of coach Miguel Mendez's former players at Real Celta de Vigo, Gema Garcia.
The 1.65m guard has joined Rivas from Spanish Liga Femenina outfit Caja Rural Tintos de Toros, where she was averaging 3.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in just over 20 minutes per contest.
Rivas, last year's Copa de la Reina winners, are having another strong season.
At 7-5 in the EuroLeague Women, Mendez's squad is fourth in Group C - the same record as third-place Good Angels Kosice and one victory clear of fifth-place Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration.
Rivas lost veteran Amaya Valdemoro to two wrist fractures in mid-October and her return to the court has taken longer than expected.
The initial projection was that Valdemoro would miss two months.
The club signed Jelena Dubljevic at the start of November on a two-month contract and she has since left and joined Nadezhda Orenburg.