Polish side Wisla Can-Pack Krakow have reached the EuroLeague eighth- finals again - an achievement thanks in no small part to star guard Anna De Forge.
The Poles, after Wednesday's 81-77 defeat to TEO Vilnius, advanced as the fourth-place team from Group A.
In that tough loss, the 30-year-old De Forge was a bright spot.
|Anna De Forge is averaging 18.7 ppg - fifth-best in the EuroLeague Women |
The 29 points were not enough, however, as TEO scraped the win.
De Forge has been excellent this season.
She is averaging 18.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, and her input will be essential when Wisla travel to Valencia on January 30 to take on Spanish giants Ros Casares.
De Forge spoke to PA Sport's Nick Howes on behalf of FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Anna, thanks a lot for joining us. How are you finding life in Poland?
De Forge: "It's good, I'm really enjoying it at the moment. This is my second season here so the culture shock hasn't been so bad this time around. Krakow's a really nice city. I'm from Wisconsin so thankfully I'm used to the cold weather."
FIBA Europe: Have you brought family out here with you or did you come on your own?
De Forge: "No, I came out by myself."
FIBA Europe: You come from Niagara, Wisconsin. You're obviously a long way from home. Does it help having people like Dominique (Canty) on the club here with you?
De Forge: "It's great to have another American on your team and it does make it a little easier, but I was also here last year so I already knew all of the girls."
FIBA Europe: Do you get homesick?
De Forge: "Of course, it can be tough."
FIBA Europe: Do you get to go back to the States much?
De Forge: "We had a pretty good break of about 10 days over the holidays so I got to go home and spend some time with my family then."
FIBA Europe: Do you have a team over there at the moment?
De Forge: "No, I'm just concentrating on playing here with Krakow right now, playing in the Polish League as well as in the EuroLeague Women."
FIBA Europe: What do you do in your spare time?
De Forge: "I watch a lot of DVDs, I read books, go out to the movies, just normal stuff. I like to eat out. I've tried a number of different restaurants. The food's pretty good, it's not actually that different to what we get at home. There's a wide variety so you can get whatever you want. I have tried the Polish stuff like Pierogis, but I usually just keep to the safe options like chicken."
FIBA Europe: How are you finding the language barrier? Are you learning the language or do you have a translator?
De Forge: "It's not a problem at all. Polish is really hard and I don't speak it very well. I only know a few words, but everybody on our team speaks English, our coach speaks English and everything is conducted in English so it hasn't been that difficult."
FIBA Europe: You scored 29 points against TEO Vilnius, so must have been pretty happy with that?
De Forge: "Points come and go. I happened to have a decent game. Everybody on this team can score and unfortunately we still lost the game. I'd take less points if that meant we could win."
FIBA Europe: What's the level in the EuroLeague Women like compared to the WNBA back home?
De Forge: "It's very competitive. In Poland there's at least five teams that are up there and the EuroLeague is EuroLeague, it's tough every night. It's not quite the same level as in the WNBA, but there are a lot of very talented WNBA players in the league and there's a lot of talented Europeans so every game is tough. Every team has at least eight players which are really talented."
FIBA Europe: Does the game in Europe differ in any way from that in the States?
De Forge: "I think the WNBA is slightly more physical. It's probably a little bit faster paced, too."
FIBA Europe: Do you feel you can still improve as a player while you are in Poland or are you here for the life experience?
De Forge: "I think a little bit of both. I think whenever you play you're going to find improvements and you're going to make improvements but it's also been a great experience to come to Poland and learn about a different culture first-hand."
FIBA Europe: How big is basketball in Poland?
De Forge: "It's pretty big right now, we draw really well."
FIBA Europe: What sized crowds to do you get?
De Forge: "Our gym's a little smaller than most, but we still draw around 2,000 fans per game and that fills the gym."
FIBA Europe: Do you get recognised in the streets?
De Forge: (Laughs) "Well no, not as much as some of my team-mates do."
FIBA Europe: Do you get to spend much time with the other American girls when you travel around Europe?
De Forge: "It's hit and miss. If they come to your city or you go to theirs you sometimes get to meet up after the game and go to dinner or hang out a little bit, but it is hit and miss."
FIBA Europe: "How do you rate Wisla's chances in the upcoming Eighth-Finals?
De Forge: "I'm excited. I think we've got a tough match-up. The Spanish team (Ros Casares) is really good, and of course I know DeLisha (Milton) and Alison (Feaster-Strong) and I also played with Elena Tornikidou in the WNBA in 2000. They have a really good team, so it's going to be really tough for us but I think it will be a good series. Whoever makes the less mistakes and whoever plays better as a team will win."