|17 October 2013|
|Frida Eldebrink is seeking a fresh start to her club career with Rivas Ecopolis after injruy ravaged her 2012/2013 club season|
We take a look at the EuroLeague Women prospects of Spanish side Rivas Ecopolis as they embark on their fifth successive season in the competition.
Last Season: Rivas finished fourth in the first phase of the tournament with a 6-6 record, but having made a fairytale run all the way to the EuroLeague Women Final in 2012, they failed to repeat their heroics by bowing out in the play-offs to Famila Schio last season.
Significant Summer Departures: Leading scorer Oleksandra Kurasova, rebounding ace Aneika Henry and invaluable ‘glue' player Ann Cruz.
Roster Review: The main core of Rivas has changed, along with the coach too, as Jose Hernandez brings his vast experience to the post, alongside his assistants, former head coach Javier Fort and Nacho Martinez. They have a very young team to try and mould into play-off potential and ideally, Final Eight contenders. There is some experience in veteran Kelly Schumacher who returns to the court after playing pro-beach volleyball in recent years, whilst the ever-reliable Clara Bermejo is back patrolling the backcourt. Every other player is born post-1987, which highlights the age factor, although they do have more than enough in terms of talent. Headlining this talent is the EuroBasket Women contingent, with frontcourt duo Laura Nicholls and Laura Gil returning as gold medal winners, alongside the lightening quick hands of guard Queralt Casas. They also have a reference player in Swedish sensation Frida Eldebrink who made the All-Tournament Team in France. Versatile forward Vega Gimeno is like a new signing having come back from the sidelines and Gaby Ocete is a reliable playmaker. One of the most important players will be Rachel Allison who moved from Burgos in the summer and can put points on the board as well as doing dirty work on the glass.
Headline Stealer: After missing half of last season with a serious wrist injury, including the run of Bourges Basket to the Final Eight semi-finals, Frida Eldebrink will be more determined than anyone else to reach the season climax this time around. She brings so many different scoring options and is capable of hitting clutch shots which could define the season for Rivas if they are engaged in a number of tight games.
Sliding Onto The Radar: Having been ravaged by injury during the last year, it's time for Vega Gimeno to get back onto the Euroleague Women radar. She brings a nice inside-outside game to the party and started last year in great fashion, before sickeningly being stopped in her tracks by the ACL injury.
Scanning The Schedule: Rivas will play one of the favourites in Fenerbahce and the new-look duo of Wisla Can-Pack and Nadezhda who could be strong. But, three of their last four games look particularly favourable (on paper at least), with a home match-up against Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration and road trips to BK Imos Brno and UE Sopron.
‘Twittertastic': Check out @joseihf @Queralt_casas @fridaelde @KellySchumacher @BasketRivas
In Just Ten Words: Capable and with good coaches, the play-offs are realistic.