First Time Glory As Rivas Win Copa!

10.01.2011

EuroLeague Women

14. Dewanna Bonner (Rivas Ecópolis)
Dewanna Bonner spent Christmas in hospital with pneumonia, but that didn't prevent her from leading Rivas Ecópolis to their first trophy

Rivas Ecopolis enjoyed the finest weekend in their history by first coming from 18 points down to stun Halcon Avenida and then upsetting hosts Ros Casares to win the Copa de la Reina.

DeWanna Bonner, the American forward who shone for Frisco Sika Brno last season and also plays in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury, was voted MVP of the event.

The 23-year-old had 24 points and 14 rebounds in the 81-76 semi-final triumph over Avenida and then poured in 21 points and corralled 10 boards against Ros on Sunday.

Despite Bonner having been terrific last year in Brno, helping them reach the last eight of the EuroLeague Women, Rivas coach Javier Fort had not expected her to be as prolific as she has been so far for his team in both Spain and Europe this season.

"She was a bet in the summer and it's working very well for us," he said after the 63-59 triumph over Ros.

"This has been a success for all of our players but the season is not over.

"We must think now of coaching, learning from this victory and focusing on our next game."

Bonner, who studied psychology at Auburn University, is using that education to good effect as a professional player.

She had the right mindset in Valencia.

"For me the way you face a game is key in order to win it," she said.

"You have to play with intensity and have a lot of patience.

"I think in the two opportunities we have had in Valencia, we proved that that is one path to achieve victory and I am very satisfied to have achieved it."

The game was a more emotional one for two players that were on the books of Ros Casares until last summer when they were told they were surplus to requirements.

Elisa Aguilar had been the long-serving captain of Ros but wasn't retained, along with Amaya Valdemoro - the greatest player in Spanish basketball history.

Both 34-year-olds have won the Copa de la Reina before, and this triumph was just as meaningful as the others.

"All the Copas are special," said Aguilar, who along with Valdemoro were applauded non-stop all weekend by the fans at La Fonteta.

"This one as well because this is a club that is growing.

"It's good for women's basketball to break the hegemony."

In the previous nine copas, the winners had been either Ros or Avenida.

"It has been emotional because the people of Valencia have shown a special affection to me," Aguilar said.

"It's true that Elisa and I have lifted many copas, but that is because we are veterans," Valdemoro said.

"For me, this final has been very special. First of all, because the Valencia fans have always treated me superbly and at certain times, during the semi-final and the final, I got goose bumps because of all the love they have shown me.

"Second of all, this is very important for Rivas, which has made a huge bet to become a great team and to be among those powerful teams like Ros and Perfumerias (Avenida).

"I have enjoyed this game.

"There was tension."

Rivas have Spain national team veterans but also the future in 24-year-old Anna Cruz and 21-year-old Laura Nicholls.

Both were instrumental over the weekend.

"The key has been our defense," Cruz said.

"If we stay focused at the back and work hard, we can always do well on offense.

"Ros still has a great team but it's true that Rivas can compete with the top clubs."

Rivas, Ros and Halcon Avenida will now turn their attention to the EuroLeague Women, which resumes this week.


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