Rivas Building In Blocks

04 December 2009

Having blazed a trail in EuroLeague Women during their debut season in the competition, the form of Rivas has opened a debate as to whether they can truly challenge for one of the toughest domestic leagues in Europe.

Most keen observers of Liga Femenina and the European game will know that finishing top of the pile or even just coming between powerhouses Ros Casares and Halcon Avenida will be a gigantic challenge - but is it one they are up to?

Home and Away

General Manager Jose Juanas Vicente is backing his club to not only keep the fires burning in Europe but to also light it up on the home front too. However he was quick to underline the fact that Rivas are still a young club in terms of tradition and that means enjoying the Euro-ride but remembering where they started their short but action-packed journey.

"We must remember that we are a team with only a few years in the elite league of Spanish basketball. Our target is to consolidate our project to assure our long-term viability."

"In the short term, we are executing our plan of taking part in EuroLeague Women and to try to compete with good basketball teams for which we feel a big admiration such as Bourges, Sopron and Prague."

"There is no doubt that we are managing to achieve things above our expectations, but beyond enjoying every match, we do not believe that we should change our initial expectations in any way."

"We won't stop believing in our own abilities and finishing where the competition allows us. For this season in EuroLeague Women we will have fulfilled our targets if we manage to pass the qualifying round group phase and compete in the play-offs. At this point we will push on - all the teams of the competition will now give us a lot of respect."

He added, "As for the Liga Femenina, we believe that we have never been closer to the two big clubs in our country (Ros Casares and Halcon Avenida) and we will now try to compete with them."

Despite the optimism of Vicente, it could prove a challenge for Rivas to match the resources of their two big rivals and Coach Javier Fort is acutely aware of what is required if the Reds are really serious about breaking into the top two spots this season.

"We have to keep growing by using our defence and the work of team. Both Ros Casares and Halcon Avenida have bigger budgets than ours and consequently have players with individual talent that is far bigger than ours."

"We are wrong if we believe that we can beat these teams playing in the individual form since in this respect they are far better than us." continued Fort.

"However, from the work we do as a team, I do not see any other team that works better in this sense than my players."

Jelena Dubljevic (Rivas Ecópolis)
Forward Jelena Dubljevic is giving her side 13.3 ppg 5.3 rpg and 2.2 stls.

From a players perspective, Jelena Dubljevic has been one of the cornerstones of the perennial improvements being made by Rivas on the court. The Montenegro born forward helped Rivas to get third spot last season and within just one loss of Salamanca.

Having now added and sustained some kind of consistency in the last couple of years, Dubljevic is confident the club is in a position to strike and take what may eventually come its way.

She said "Rivas will always be there or thereabouts in the Spanish league. Of course Ros Casares are the best team and that is to be expected since they are alsoone of the best teams in the whole of Europe!"

"Still, despite this, we will wait for our chance and if we manage to get it then we will try to use it!"

Building Blocks

With Rivas tearing it up on court, it could be very tempting for the Directors of the club to get overly excited and over stretch themselves resource wise. Particularly when you consider the vast array of actions that the Spanish outfit are hoping to put in place in the near future according to Vicente.

He explained "We approach the next few years with great calmness and with the target to consolidate. We have many fronts to be fulfilled - to make our fans faithful, to improve the level of our players in the lower categories to eventually benefit our first team, to realize our Plan of Communication so the after effect of the performances of the team are felt by the media and finally, to obtain a new playing venue with a major capacity."

While the club is keen to make improvements in every facet of its operations, its directors seem shrewd enough not to allow a blistering start in EuroLeague Women to hoodwink them into believing their own hype and making decisions from the crest of a wave.

These are times for pragmatism and prudence according to Vincente who added a valuable and noteworthy dose of caution to the conversation, underlining a clear intent to build in blocks - even if it does take a little bit longer to realise their ambitions.

"Especially in these moments of difficult financial times, we must be certain of the economic viability of our plans. In any case, what is sure is that we will not do things according to short-term sports results since that approach could endanger the viability of our project."

Summer Loving

For Jelena Dubljevic, 2009 is a year that she just doesn't want to end. Not only has she been in fantastic form for her club during their spellbinding run in Europe, she also enjoyed progression at National Team level too.

For Montenegro achieved promotion to Division A during the summer with the forward instrumental in their superb success. That has left Dubljevic excited about the prospect of also stepping up a level for her country and dreaming of EuroBasket Women qualification and a place in Poland during 2011.

"All the things I wanted so much are reality now! Rivas is playing EuroLeague Women and Monetengro is moving to Division A. I am enjoying every moment and I hope that next summer, Monetengro will repeat the success from last summer."

"Monetengro is a little country with so many good players, players who played in big teams and best leagues! So we kind of expected all this but now we are truly in the centre of everything."

She added, "We are not the only sport in Montenegro so it is hard but what we want is for sure to be in Poland in 2011 and for the men to be in Lithuania too so that we can show everyone that as a nation, we can play basketball!"

One thing is for sure. If Montenegro take to EuroBasket Women 2011 like Rivas Ecopolis have taken to EuroLeague Women then Dubljevic will realise her dream. For now though, she is smart enough to just enjoy the ride with Rivas - something that also goes for the rest of us as they continue to paint ‘ELW' a very vibrant red.


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