|Ana Lelas and BLMA are full of respect for their play-off opponent Fenerbahce but do not feel intimated by the Turkish powerhouse |
Ana Lelas is looking forward to playing with freedom and without the burden of expectation for Basket Lattes Montpellier Aggolomeration in Round 2.
Far from fearing the worst after being pitched against tournament co-favourites Fenerbahce, the French club will engage in the play-off series looking to pull off a win that would send seismic shockwaves through the entire competition.
"We reached our goal of advancing to the second round but that doesn't mean we are going to give up," Lelas declares.
"As we all know, Fenerbahce is the only unbeaten team in the EuroLeague Women so they are definitely one of the most difficult teams to play.
"However, we have absolutely nothing to lose. There's no pressure on us and so that should be our key - to just go on the court and give our best."
BLMA might have fancied their chances a little more had they not lost Stephany Skrba to injury in December.
The forward was one of the form players of the season when she went down having led the team in scoring and the competition in field goal percentage.
"Stephany was having a really good season and we definitely miss her on the court," explained Lelas.
"I hope she will come back even stronger.
"However in her absence, we signed Kaayla Chones.
"They are totally different types of players, but Kaayla is doing well so far and helps us a lot inside!"
Lelas though also looks beyond the Fenerbahce play-off series and hopes the club can ensure some continuity for next season.
The Croatian forward feels the signs are good and if moulded into a longer-term project, even greater success could follow.
"This is our first year together and I think this team is talented. There is always more room to improve, but we've learned a lot and showed that we can play with some of the best teams in Europe," she says.
"I think we miss a little bit of experience at times, especially in tight games, but we have grown as a team and learned from our mistakes.
"I think if we keep the same team for next year we can do much better in the EuroLeague Women."
Whatever lack of experience within the BLMA camp is certainly not down to Lelas herself, who previously stepped out with Bourges Basket and brings some know-how to the table.
After a brief period away from the elite level, her first season back in the EuroLeague Women fold is proving to be a real thrill.
"It's really good to be back playing in EuroLeague Women and I'm really happy," she says.
"I like it here and I think my role is totally different than when I was playing for Bourges.
"Maybe that's why. I think individually, you can always get better and all players should strive for that."