| ||Jeff Taylor has been covering European basketball since 1997, when he first worked on the television program SLAM. He has been a basketball writer and broadcaster since that time, traveling the continent and covering the game in depth for FIBA Europe since its launch in 2003. |
It's the understatement of the century to say that in two months, all the air has been let out of the balloon.
But it has in Valencia, Spain, where the city has gone from celebrating Ros Casares' EuroLeague Women title in Istanbul to mourning the loss of a team.
As of this week, Ros Casares Basketball as an outfit in Europe and Spain's women's top flight (Liga Femenina) is no more.
The economic crisis that has gripped Spain for a few years has claimed a major sporting victim.
The sponsors of the team, Ros Casares, have decided they can no longer bankroll the team.
|The demise of 2012 Champions Ros Casares is terrible news for the EuroLeague Women.|
No new major sponsors were found that would allow for the club to compete in the EuroLeague Women or the Liga Femenina.
The general manager of Ros Casares Basketball, Carme Lluveras, spoke about the recent events on Wednesday.
"Ros Casares has taken a step forward, has been brave in this decision," she said.
"I am proud to have been able to enjoy six years here.
"In women's basketball in Spain, there has been state help in the past but that no longer exists.
"Without any financial help, it is unsustainable and not viable.
"In the current financial situation that we are in, it's indecent.
"In my opinion, all Spanish sports must reconsider their future again."
Ros Casares provided a nice diversion from the reality of hard, economic times in Valencia.
The team this season brought in a talented yet hard-working group of players that realized the club's primary aim of capturing the EuroLeague Women title in Istanbul.
There were Ann Wauters, Sancho Lyttle, Silvia Dominguez, Lauren Jackson, Maya Moore, Laia Palau, Eshaya Murphy, Kata Honti, Isabelle Yacoubou and Jana Vesela.
Players like Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter, Svetlana Abrosimova, Yelena Leuchanka, Emmeline Ndongue, Anete Jekabsone Zogota played for the opposing teams and graced the court at La Fonteta.
The Ros Casares crowd was spoiled for six years, watching week in and week out many of the best players in the world.
In the EuroLeague Women this season, there were many big wins in front of the home crowd at La Fonteta, including a come-from-behind triumph over UMMC Ekaterinburg on 16 November that served as the first real sign that Ros Casares would be the team to beat in Europe this season.
Ros Casares won their Second Round match-up against CCC Polkowice to advance to the Final Eight in Turkey and once there, defeated UMMC again, as well as Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje and Wisla Can-Pack Krakow and Spanish rivals Rivas Ecopolis in the title game.
|Laia Palau and her teammates will be missed by the Valencia fans.|
The images of the Ros Casares players celebrating on the court on 1 April are still fresh in the mind.
They finished the Liga Femenina season with a bang, too, by beating their rivals Perfumerias Avenida in the domestic play-off finals.
All of the players will find new clubs, but the fans have lost their team.
One of them is a journalist, someone who had been in Istanbul on that great night at the beginning of April when they beat Rivas.
When talking about the club on Wednesday night, his voice cracked as he said: "They gave me six wonderful years of covering them."
Somehow, he manned up and didn't shed a tear.
While the club seems to have had a death knell, at least the senior team, there is one ray of hope for the passionate followers and he goes by the name of Jose Luis Saez, the Spanish Basketball Federation President.
"The demise of Ros is terrible news but I still believe that we should fight for its continuity at every level," Saez said.