By Jeff Taylor
|Anna Montañana played with Ros Casares in last year's EuroLeague Women Final but now her job is to stop them from getting there|
A year on from playing in a EuroLeague Women Final Four in front of her family and friends in her hometown of Valencia, Spain, Anna Montanana is headed back to the promised land.
This time, she'll be wearing the shirt of Halcon Avenida and going up against Ros Casares, the very side she helped reach the 2010 title game.
Things could not be, she says, much better right now for her team that has won 12 of 14 EuroLeague Women games and also 25 of 26 league games.
"I'm very happy in Salamanca," she said to Basketball World News.
"The atmosphere there is amazing and everything is so far, so good with the team."
Avenida replaced Jordi Fernandez with Lucas Mondelo after last season but had the advantage of Anke De Mondt, Silva Dominguez, Sancho Lyttle and Isa Sanchez coming back.
And it has helped Montanana, who played for the team from 2006-08, that she was not the only player to leave Ros Casares from last season for Salamanca.
Erika de Souza and Belinda Snell also left Valencia's La Fonteta for Salamanca's Wurzburg Arena.
The team, which also includes young talents Alba Torrens and Marta Xargay, seemed to jell immediately, which was evident with their Supercopa triumph over Ros Casares.
The impressive showings in the Liga Femenina and the EuroLeague Women followed.
Falling in the semi-finals of the Copa de la Reina has been the only true setback in 2010-11 for Avenida.
"Everything was easy for the team," Montanana said.
|Sancho Lyttle, Erika De Souza and Montañana herself form a powerful frontcourt trio which could be the key against a Ros Casare side that doesn't have as many solutions inside|
"Many of us had already played with each other.
"The fans always support us."
How many times can Avenida expect to beat Ros Casares, though?
The previous encounters have been in Spain while this one will be played in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Montanana and Co swept the league series, winning in both Salamanca and Valencia.
The veteran says it's crucial to not to reflect on the successes, but to concentrate on the game that will be played on Friday.
"It will be one game," she said.
"It doesn't matter how we played against them this season.
"It's going to be an amazing war."
The presence of Lyttle and De Souza give Avenida an advantage in the low post but Ros Casares do have a couple of combative players in Cindy Lima and Rebbakah Brunson.
Nicky Anosike is in the Ros Casares squad but doesn't play in the EuroLeague games.
"They have less interior players for Europe, but they still have 11, 12 good players and everyone can step up," Montanana said.
Now 30, Montanana remains a potent player.
She averages more than 22 minutes per game and does a little bit of everything to help Avenida win.
However, the 1.86m power forward admitted: "I would like to have more consistency."
In Avenida's last three Qualifying Round games against Tarbes, Galatasaray and Spartak M.R. Vidnoje, Montanana scored 16, 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Then in the first round of the play-offs, she had just two points in the two victories against Pecs 2010.
Montanana thinks she could help out even more, but the team depth means there are less opportunities.
"We have two very strong players, Erika and Sancho, so maybe I don't get as many minutes," she said.
"But I'm helping in other aspects."