|28 February 2014|
|Ilona Korstin had a long and prosperous career playing for country, as well as various EuroLeague Women clubs |
Following on from January's announcement of Hana Horakova and Edwige Lawson-Wade as ambassadors of the European women's game, FIBA Europe Acting President Cyriel Coomans was on Thursday proud to announce a further three ambassadors.
Joining Horakova and Lawson-Wade in their first official role as FIBA Europe women ambassadors at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight in Ekaterinburg from 7-13 April will be fellow legends Amaya Valdemoro of Spain and Ilona Korstin of Russia.
Additionally, promising young talent Natasa Kovacevic, who had her playing career tragically cut short, has been confirmed as a FIBA Europe youth ambassador.
Valdemoro retired from basketball on a high last year, lofting the EuroBasket Women trophy high above her head in Orchies, France.
It brought to an end an illustrious playing career in which she became the most decorated and celebrated Spanish player of her generation.
Beginning at EuroBasket Women in 1995, the small forward went on to play in nine EuroBasket Women Final Rounds, winning one gold medal, a silver and four bronzes. Additionally she appeared in four World Championships and two Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal at the 2010 World Championships in the Czech Republic.
|Amaya Valdemoro is considered the most celebrated Spanish player of her generation|
Domestically, Valdemoro turned out in 14 EuroLeague Women campaigns, finishing as a tournament runner up on three of those occasions.
In Russia, the name Korstin is revered in a similar manner to Valdemoro in Spain and rightfully so, with the players sharing a number of similarities, including their continued involvement in the game they love following an end to their playing days.
Like Valdemoro, Korstin also played the small forward position and called a halt to her career following EuroBasket Women 2013 - her seventh consecutive EuroBasket Women campaign and her 13th major tournament for Russia, following three Olympic and three World Championship appearances.
Her time in a Russian national jersey led to two Olympic bronze medals, two EuroBasket Women gold medals and a silver.
At EuroLeague Women level, Korstin was a key member of the 2001 championship-winning CJM Bourges Basket team, the 2005 champion club VBM-SGAU Samara and in 2010 a vital component of Sparta&K Moscow Region club when they won the title.
"Valdemoro and Korstin were inspirational role models on the court, and now through their commitment to being FIBA Europe Women Ambassadors, they can continue to inspire of it," said FIBA Europe Acting President Cyriel Coomans.
"The five ambassadors have been carefully selected based not only on their outstanding and immaculate playing careers, but their ability to bring out the best in those that are fortunate enough to cross paths with them," explained FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak, adding, "beginning this summer the ambassadors will be actively engaging and promoting women's basketball in Europe in order to assist FIBA Europe in lifting female participation in women's basketball on the continent."