Making history still the trademark of Mondelo
EKATERINBURG (EuroLeague Women 2017) – There are few coaches in the women's game whose resume is as diverse and as instant at attaining success than Dynamo Kursk play-caller Lucas Mondelo.
Making history is what the play-caller does best – whether its for club or country.
Cast your mind back to 2011 when Mondelo was at the helm of Perfumerias Avenida in his first EuroLeague Women adventure. Against all the odds and as underdogs, he won the title – in Ekaterinburg by the way.
He then headed to China to take the coaching reins of Shanxi Rui Flame – freshly promoted to the top flight and won the WCBA title in his first season. Not only that, but he racked up three titles in is first three seasons.
Amidst all of that, he also won EuroBasket Women 2013 in his first major tournament with the Spanish senior team and has since blazed a trail to mastermind their first ever FIBA Women's World Championship and Olympic Finals.
It's therefore incredulous that after leaving Shanxi, nobody seemed to be swooping for his services – or at least until Dynamo Kursk belatedly came knocking on his door.
And, so far at least, Mondelo has kept on doing what he does best. He has guided Dynamo Kursk to the Final Four which wasn't historic in itself, but he did it with an unbeaten 16-0 record. Meanwhile last weekend, he did write his usual line of history - after propelling the club to their first-ever Russian Finals.
But can he now take them to a first-ever EuroLeague Women Final or even the title itself?
"To make my return to Europe was a dream and also a challenge, so it gives me a lot of pride to have reached EuroLeague Women Final Four and the Russian League Finals," said Mondelo.
"The team arrives in good shape for this important moment, but they need to know that everything they've done so far doesn't help us - it only served to get us here.
"Now we start all over again and play for everything in this game against a great team like Prague."
While Mondelo has every right to be hugely satisfied with his own accomplishments so far, he is gushing in his praise for his opponents in Friday’s Semi-Finals and their head coach Natalia Hejkova.
Both know each other well after being in the same Group during the Regular Season, while Mondelo works alongside Prague duo Laia Palau and Marta Xargay with the Spanish national team.
"I have to say that ZVVZ USK Prague are such a solid team and I stress the word team," he emphasized.
"They can still be one of the favorites without any doubt, as they now have several consecutive Final Four appearances to their name and possess players with experience.
"They also have a coach with such an impressive history, whose roster was already good with [Sonja] Petrovic, [Kia] Vaughn, [Anete] Steinberga and also Palau and Xargay.
"But, when you also add two more quality players in [Candice] Dupree and [Katerina] Elhotova it makes them better still.
"I think the Semi-Finals will be very similar to the game we played on our home court against them which was only decided in the last minute.
"If we want to have options to win, we must prevent turnovers against their aggressive defense, stop their fast-break and offensive transition, but above anything else we have to control the rebounds - I am convinced that whoever controls the board will win the match," concluded Mondelo, as he looks to add to his truly glittering and history-making career.