|Ilona Burgrova is in her third season in the EuroLeague Women with ZVVZ USK Prague. She has been representing the Czech Republic since she first stepped out as a cadette, in 1999. Ilona is writing for FIBAEurope.com to give us her insight into the 2011/2012 EuroLeague Women season.|
Greetings to all of my impatient basketball fans ☺
Like some of my friends would say: "OMG it is finally here!!!!" The main event of the year for the EuroLeague Women is coming up tomorrow.
The eight best teams will face each other during 4 days to prove they can dominate the others.
Istanbul is a perfect place for this event. Not only it is home for two EuroLeague Women teams but also the city and the people have an experience with organizing such an event.
It will be very interesting to follow the games in both groups but I think Group A will be more interesting for the domestic fans which are known for creating an amazing atmosphere in the gym.
Many people ask me to take a guess on who will be the next champion but I always hesitate with my answer.
All eight teams have different strengths and with 4 games in 5 days anything can happen.
Here are just a couple of my thoughts:
Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje - One of the Russian giants. Its roster can be compared with no hesitation to a night sky because it is full of stars. Sparta&K is one of the regular participants of the final tournaments and there is no doubt they will want to get their title back after losing it last year. Coach Chatman has a full arsenal of weapons in her team and it will be up to her which one she will use to destroy the opponents.
Beretta-Famila Schio - Honestly, it was a small surprise for me to see Schio qualified for the Final 8 tournament. But this team is full of players who don't hesitate to fight till the last minute. They will be in a hard position, being in group A with both of the Turkish teams, but I think the players of Schio love to play hard and challenging games like these. They might not be able to reach the title but I think we should get ready for some surprise coming from them.
Galatasary Medical Park - Even though Galatasaray lost one of their most talented player (Alba Torens) almost at the beginning of the season, the rest of the players were able to show that Galatasaray is still a very strong team. Losing only three games during the regular season and with a recent win of the Turkish cup they are ready to reward their fans with one more treat. In my opinion they are one of the teams who might be able to reach their goal this season.
Ros Casares Valencia - The team which in my opinion has experienced a lot of changes and some ups and downs during this season. It took the players some time to learn how to really play together effectively. But under the new coach Roberto Iniguez and with a great inside as well as outside game they are now a threat to any opponent.
UMMC Ekaterinburg - The second of the Russian giants who was able to qualify to the elite eight teams. In group B they will face their rival from Moscow as well as the 2010 runners up Ros Casares Valencia. Their way to the title will not be easy but with a team where even the biggest stars have to sit down there is a big opportunity to steal the title this year.
Rivas Ecopolis - Another Spanish team who was able to overcome the obstacles of regular season games and qualified to the final tournament. This team might seem like an underdog but I think they have the potential as well as the experience which might help them to win a couple games in the tournament. So even though I don't think they will be able to reach the top they will be definitely a tough opponent to any of the teams they will face during the tournament.
Fenerbahce S.K. - The only team with all the possible wins this season. The question is will they be able to continue? Will the loss in the Turkish cup influence their performance? Personally I don't think so. This team is full of internationally experienced players and they know where their goal is and what they have to do to achieve it. With the Fenerbahce fans behind them, the players have a great opportunity to finish their season strong.
Wisla Can-Pack Krakow - The representative of the Polish league will try to repeat the great result from two seasons ago. Group B will give them enough opportunities to surprise the more favoured teams. I think it will be hard for them to reach the fourth place of 2010 but coach Jose I. Hernández and his team are more than capable to show how well they prepared themselves for this event.
With all this being said I still cannot pick a favourite team which I would like to win. So I guess I will be watching the games and just enjoying the great competitive women's basketball on the highest level.
Good luck to all the teams and let the best team win!