11 October, 2022
16 April, 2023
55 Simona Sklenarova (ZVVZ), 25 Alyssa Thomas (ZVVZ), 11 Valeriane Vukosavljevic (ZVVZ), 10 Maria Conde (ZVVZ), 3 Teja Oblak (ZVVZ)
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Why USK Praha can repeat the amazing home success of 2015

PRAGUE (Czech Republic) - There's a sense of deja vu in the air as ZVVZ USK Praha prepare to host Final Four, evoking memories of their finest hour when they took their maiden EuroLeague Women title. 

That was the most glorious of nights back in 2015 when they took down runaway favorites UMMC Ekaterinburg and it's something that will never be forgotten. But is the title success something that could be on the verge of also being repeated?

Back at the Final Four again having played at the end-of-season tournament last year, Praha have had a strong campaign.



They went 10-4 in Group A of the Regular Season, finishing just behind Fenerbahce Alagoz Holding, and while they needed a deciding game in the Quarter-Finals against Perfumerias Avenida, they have plenty of reasons for optimism ahead heading into the finish straight. 

The team's marquee player Alyssa Thomas, who is having a blistering season averaging 16.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game, was open about their title ambitions.

"We are one of the top teams in Europe each and every year and we definitely want to win the championship. I think we are still trying to get there and trying to compete," she said. 

"Injuries happened and we were short-handed at the Final Four [last year]. But we love playing with each other, we love being here in Prague. I keep coming back here for the family atmosphere and I love playing with this group."

Check out the ZVVZ USK Praha team profile:

Four reasons Praha can repeat the amazing home success of 2015:

An MVP contender like Alyssa 'Triple-Double' Thomas

A potential Final Four MVP honor could await Thomas if Praha do manage to ride their way to the title and it would be no surprise at all if the forward put the team on her back at key times. She is always flirting with triple-doubles due to her incredible influence in all aspects of the game and if she hits top gear, it's going to take something special to slow her down. A big chunk of Praha's hopes rest on her shoulders but eye-popping numbers and super performances is what she does best. 

FIBA Hall of Famer Natalia Hejkova

With no fewer than five EuroLeague Women titles (that's right - count them) including that famous win some eight years ago when she was at the helm of Praha, FIBA Hall of Fame coach Natalia Hejkova has unrivalled experience. She will give her team the freedom to express themselves and to play as usual, but she will also use her know-how as usual in the trickier moments in particular. Coach Hejkova has seen and done it all before and worked with the world's best players in this competition so will be ready as always. 

That home court advantage and belief

When everyone headed to the Czech capital last time, nobody truly believed the fairytale would happen. But all the elements fused together to create this breathtaking occasion and an outcome that even those involved with Praha themselves seemed incapable of processing. One of the elements was the noisy home support and they will have that as fuel this time around. Additionally, because those that went before them wearing Praha jersey's in 2015 showed what is possible, there should be an extra level of belief in 2023!

A starting five that is up there with the best

While one of Praha's concerns is a lack of depth compared to others, if their main players stay healthy and out of foul trouble then this gives them such a massive advantage. That's because their starters (and often finishers) play so well together and as a unit has shown they can power past any opponents when they find rhythm. From the leadership of captain and guard Teja Oblak, to the wing play of Maria Conde and Valeriane Vukosavljevic, the do-it-all Alyssa Thomas and the strength inside of Brionna Jones, it's a quality lineup.