By Paul Nilsen
For a handful of clubs, the clock continues to count down towards what will be a historic moment when they step out onto the court for the very first time in EuroLeague Women.
Two such teams preparing to make their bow in the elite club competition of the women's game are Polish side KSSSE AZS - PWSZ Gorzow and Rivas Ecopolis of Spain. The rookies have been paired together for their first taste of action and will begin their journey together in Madrid this Thursday night with hopes of progressing past what looks to be the most wide open Group of 2009-10.
Both teams already carry the invaluable experience of having juggled a stint in European competition with their domestic commitments via their exploits in EuroCup last season although this won't stave off those feelings of nervous anticipation, excitement and expectation ahead of the big tip-off.
Gorzow in particular have it really tough since they are the only team that must play their first three games on the road. Nevertheless, having finished as runners-up in the Polish league last season and now sat top of the pile in their homeland with a 7-0 record and gunning for the title of another Polish EuroLeague Women team in Lotos Gdynia a very proud vice chairman Ireneusz Madej is not allowing his clubs rookie status to shrink their European ambitions.
He explained "The directors of the club are clear that the task is promotion from Group B. The team plays only once in an elitist game but we are not afraid and have no worries."
"We have gathered our experiences of playing European games from our performances during EuroCup Women last season. Several other teams in EuroLeague Women are also stepping up in this way - teams which competed with us in EuroCup women very recently."
"We want to settle in EuroLeague Women for longer and to progress."
That clear message from the clubs hierarchy is echoed by coach Dariusz Maciejewski who must mould his roster into one capable of emerging this year. Central to the success of Gorzow will be the likes of rising Polish star Agnieszka Kaczmarczyk, Australian guard Samantha Richards and WNBA player Sidney Spencer who averaged 14 points per game in the competition last season with Kosice.
The play-caller is hoping his players will show the mental strength and conviction in the way the team play their game to make a successful step up and a leap past the inital group stage.
"It is most important we would show our style of game and if we do this then we willbe able to play at this high level because only with such an attitude can we give ourselves that important exit pass from Group B".
As for Rivas Ecopolis, well they had an opportunity to gauge where they are at last weekend when they faced one of the EuroLeague Women front-runners in domestic rivals Ros Casares Valencia and were soundly beaten 73-56.
Not that this or the determination of Gorzow will deter them from trying to bounce back with a victory as they write another historical chapter in their brief but impressive history.