From Dan Darby, PA Sport, Samara
Maria Stepanova admits to having mixed feelings ahead of the EuroLeague Women All-Star Game.
The two-time FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year can't wait to show 'a few tricks of the trade' to her adoring fans when the game is staged in Valencia, but she regrets that more of her CSKA Volgaburmash team mates are not also taking part.
"Taking part in the All Star Game is a big honour for me and very prestigious," Stepanova said to PA Sport.
"It's the second time the event has taken place, and I have been lucky enough to be selected both times.
|Maria Stepanova scored 15 points in her side's last game against USVO.|
"(But) It's a bit of a pity that because of the limited number of participants, some of the other Volgaburmash players cannot participate."
In truth, CSKA have all-star quality at every position and it certainly would not appear strange for their entire starting five to be at the game.
However, FIBA Europe limits the game to two players per team.
As it is, only Stepanova and CSKA's hugely popular Spanish international Amaya Valdemoro will be in Spain as a member of the European team.
"In my opinion, Ann Wauters and Edwidge Lawson are capable enough players to figure amongst the star players," Stepanova said.
Wauters and Lawson have played like superstars as CSKA have stormed into the quarter-finals of the EuroLeague Women.
Overall, Stepanova has a good feeling ahead of the March 8 game.
The Year of Women's Basketball, a FIBA Europe initiative, has helped Stepanova and all of her colleagues.
"I think that such games help to make our sport all the more popular," Stepanova said.
"And in Valencia, I am hoping to demonstrate a few tricks of the trade that I wouldn't usually risk in competitive matches."
At last year's inaugural event, Stepanova dunked during the game.
Stepanova will be receiving the 2006 FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year award during this year's game.