|18 November 2013|
|"I'm very happy reflecting on our first games in the group, because we have taken wins against two of the best teams" - Jose Hernandez|
Something has to give when Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration and Rivas Ecopolis go head-to-head in EuroLeague Women Group B.
With a combined three wins from three games, it's perhaps something of a surprise that both teams have got immediately onto the front foot.
Rivas head coach Jose Hernandez is thrilled with progress so far after claiming a nail-biting win at his former club Wisla Can-Pack and then rolling over Nadezhda Orenburg on home soil last week.
"I'm very happy reflecting on our first games in the group, because we have taken wins against two of the best teams," said the play-caller.
"However, this next game in France is going to be very hard, because Montpellier are a very strong team, with physical players and they also have a very good balance in terms of their offence and defence."
The win against Nadezhda was made all the more impressive since Hernandez was unable to call upon the services of his kingpin Frida Eldebrink, who sat out injured, having nailed that memorable buzzer-beater in Krakow during week one.
With the alluring prospect of going 3-0 if they can come away from France with a win in their pocket, carefully harnessing confidence and not allowing it to breed unrealistic expectations could be one of the next tasks to fall into the in-try of Hernandez.
He conceded, "This season our goals in EuroLeague Women are simply to play hard every game and to compete.
"We are very young team and we want improve our players and also our team on a step-by-step basis.
"We want to participate in the play-offs and it is our dream to play at the Final Eight, but we know that there are better teams than us."
Form Guide: BLMA claimed a tense 59-57 road win at Nadezhda Orenburg in their opener, before having last week off. They are flying high in the French League with a 7-1 record and are one of a number of clubs hunting down leaders Tango Bourges. Currently sat proudly at the summit of Group B, Rivas won 62-60 at Wisla and strolled past Nadezhda 90-71. They are joint leaders with Perfumerias Avenida in Liga Femenina having lost once, although they were edged by their rivals in the Super Cup Final.
The Hot Hands: Shameka Christon was a thorn in the side of her former team as she helped BLMA win in Russia and has generally been the main performer in the French League for BLMA. Both Queralt Casas and Laura Nicholls have been playing well in recent weeks for Rivas, with Nicholls scoring a career Euroleague Women high of 23 points against Nadezhda.
‘X Factors' & Match Ups: Whilst it was a fabulous win for BLMA in Orenburg, they only shot 50% from the line which almost cost them dearly in a tight contest and that will need improvement. BLMA have real experience, athleticism and strength in the power forward and wing positions which could provide the key to winning the game. How Rivas match up with Robert will be most fascinating and with Rachel Allison, Laura Gill and Laura Nicholls all starting for Rivas last week, how they manage the 3-5 spot rotations will be a particular area of interest.
Did you know? Fatimatou Sacko and Frida Eldebrink played together in Euroleague Women for Tarbes Gespe Bigorre during 2010 and veteran Latvian Gunta Basko-Melnbarde has played for Jose Hernandez twice previously, stepping out under his watchful eye for both Perfumerias Avenida and Wisla Can-Pack.