|Agnieszka Bibrzycka watching a EuroBasket Women game last June from the stands. The Polish international took a one-year break from the game because of her pregnacy|
By Paul Nilsen
Basketball won't be the only topic of conversation when EuroLeague Women legend Ann Wauters goes up against a former team-mate next week in Round 2.
The Ros Casares forward is looking forward to meeting up again with Agnieszka Bibrzycka (Biba) of CCC Polkowice with the pair not only able to reminisce over their experiences playing together at UMMC Ekaterinburg, but also now able to compare notes on their recent introduction to motherhood.
"I am so happy to be able to see Biba and her baby," Wauters says with a smile.
"We were actually neighbours in Ekaterinburg and of course now we are both moms.
"So, I guess we will have plenty of baby stuff to talk about."
However, baby talk won't disguise the on-court threat posed by Biba as far as Wauters is concerned and she reckons the return of the Polish star to the competition poses a big danger and consequently the Spanish team will have to be wary of their ambitious opponents.
"Biba is a great player and she can decide a game by herself," the Belgian international asserts.
"You can never underestimate a team like Polkowice. We need to be focused and well prepared for the series.
"They are second in the Polish league and it is the stage of the competition where every team will fight hard for a spot in the Final Eight."
|"You can never underestimate a team like Polkowice," warns Ann Wauters ahead of the play-off series|
It has certainly been a roller-coaster ride for Ros Casares so far this season in a campaign which has already witnessed a change of head coach.
Wauters is the first to agree it hasn't been a smooth journey but can't complain at how things have panned out.
"We had a good first round with ups and downs which is pretty normal for a new team," she admits.
"We just had to learn how to play together.
"Of course we had our losses against ZVVZ USK Prague and VICI Aistes Kaunas but sometimes a defeat can teach you so much more than a lucky win.
"Around Christmas they changed our coach while Nata and Maya joined our team so again we needed some time to adjust.
"I think we have showed in some games that we can be a great team with a lot of depth but we still need to work hard to be more consistent."
Yet despite this, the Valencia-based club is looking good value as many people's co-favourites to land a title, one they have been chasing down so hard in recent times.
Wauters is acutely aware however that finishing top of the podium will be immensely difficult with so much quality elsewhere in the EuroLeague Women.
"The Fenerbahce team are just so used to playing together," she remarks.
"Their post duo of Ivana Matovic and Nevriye Yilmaz are doing great while of course with a player like Penny Taylor who is so versatile and with Angel McCoughtry too, it really makes it hard to guard them."
"Ekat has had some losses but also had some injuries. They have made some changes to their roster, so I think they will be at full strength for the Final Eight."
"I think Galatasaray will be ready for the Final Eight too," she adds.
The Turkish powerhouse will be the EuroLeague Women Final Eight hosts and are consequently the only team that has already booked a spot.
"Playing at home can be a great advantag,e while a player like Diana Taurasi certainly loves big games and she has won more than one title in recent EuroLeague Women seasons," Wauters says.
"It will be a tough tournament with four games in five days and all eight teams will fight for a spot in the final!"