Russian Maria Stepanova of the EuroLeague Women’s club VBM-SGAU Samara was selected by international media as the winner of the inaugural 2005 FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year.
Stepanova, who in 2005 led Samara to the EuroLeague Women’s title and Russia to the silver medal at EuroBasket Women, collected 152 votes. Spanish international Amaya Valdemoro, a team-mate of Stepanova at Samara, came in second-place with 144 votes.
“I was very glad to learn that I was named as the winner of the award,” said Stepanova. “I value this. It shows that I have reached a very high level.”
The 2005 FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year is not the only major piece of hardware that Stepanova collected for her play in 2005. The 202 cm center was also selected as the Most Valuable Player of EuroBasket Women after averaging 18 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
At the club level, Stepanova was the centrepiece of Samara’s 2005 EuroLeague Women’s title run. On a roster full of stars, Stepanova led the team with 13.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game while shooting 48.9% from the field.
|Maria Stepanova was dominant in 2005|
When Samara needed her most, Stepanova came through for her team. In the EuroLeague Women’s championship game, Stepanova scored nine points and grabbed three offensive rebounds in the last five minutes of the game to lead Samara to a 69-66 come-from-behind victory.
“We are proud that the recipient of the first-ever FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year is Maria Stepanova,” said FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin.
“A star player has the ability to perform in the clutch. Maria, time and time again, has come up with key plays for both Samara and the Russian National Team at crucial times.”
Stepanova’s trophy mantle currently includes four EuroBasket medals, an Olympic bronze and the IOC’s 2004 Sports Star award for basketball, among other honours.
She will be able to add the 2005 FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year to the mantle when she is presented with the official custom-designed trophy at a game and date to be announced.
FIBA Europe will be announcing the 2005 FIBA Europe Men’s Player of the Year on Thursday, January 26, 2006.
Breakdown of Votes for the FIBA Europe 2005 Women's Player of the Year: