Four countries, three games, nine days. This is my life back in Europe as an assistant coach for UMMC Ekaterinburg.
I left Phoenix on October 18th, arriving into Brussels on the morning of the 19th where I was greeted by a driver that would take me to Lille, France to join the team. Upon arriving at the hotel and greeting my husband, I had 30 minutes to get ready for my first video session and practice for the start of my fifth European campaign with UMMC. Welcome back! No easing into it 🙂
The next night we played Villeneuve for the SuperCup title. This is a title that is played between the winner of the EuroLeague and the EuroCup, although we were actually playing the runner’s up team since Bourges did not want to play. BG and Todd (Mercury assistant coach) also joined the team the same time as I. While we still have players missing from our roster (Diana will report on November 21, Sancho Little is still rehabbing from her injury she had during the WNBA season, while Kristi Toliver and Geniya Belyakova were about to play in the fifth game of the WNBA finals), we won a hard fought game, 66-63, to win the title, so of course we were all happy!
The hardest thing with traveling abroad is the time change and thus the jet-lag. The first night I slept long and deeply (I was still recovering from our WNBA season), but since then, going to sleep at 3 a.m. is the norm. It really did not help me that I stayed up to watch Game 5 of the WNBA championship, and I suppose the excitement and drama from that game did not allow me to fall asleep until 6 a.m. the next morning. What a great game and a great series, though. It will be sad that these great games and promotion for our game will be tarnished with two missed calls again.
From Lille, we bussed one hour to a hotel located close to Brussels to play a friendly game against Castors Braine two days later. BG sat this one out and we ended up losing a close one. Even though it was a practice match, the referees took it very serious. Olaf and Deanna Nolan were both called for technical fouls for basically nothing! We had to laugh about it! Lucky these guys are not in the W 🙂
One of the many great things being a member of UMMC’s team is that we charter to all of our games. It really is a luxury and something I wish we could use in the W! Ekaterinburg is located in the middle part of Eurasia (biggest mainland on the Earth, with the total area of 53,893 sq km. It comprises two parts of the world – Europe and Asia. The border between Europe and Asia stretches along the Ural Mountains) so our travel is hard, but it does make it easy being able to charter. The next flight we took was from Lille to Salamanca, a short 2 1/2 hour flight.
Salamanca is a medium sized city located in the western part of Spain, right beside the border of Portugal. It is famous for its culture and student atmosphere. Churches in Europe are all spectacular and the one here is no exception, as you can see by the photos. While we had time to explore the city we were there to play a game, which did not have the result we had hoped for. Their fans are some of the most vocal, loud fans in Europe, which definitely gave their team the energy needed to win the game.
The next morning we were back on our chartered plane and flying back to Ekaterinburg. The time change is three hours and by the time we arrived it was 10.30 p.m. There is a dramatic change in temperature as well, as it’s already 30 degree, or less, so winter is slowly setting in.
We have two home games before we go back on the road in three days, first to Moscow and then to Hatay. Following that, we’ll have a 10-day break in our season due to the National Team commitments; no complaints from us! I only just left, but I always look forward to going home to Phoenix 🙂