SHANXI (WCBA) - A little over a year ago, Spanish women's national team head coach Lucas Mondelo was adding to his burgeoning resume with a stunning WCBA Championship success during his first season with the newly-promoted Shanxi Rui Flame.
Now the reigning champions have an opportunity to defend their coveted WCBA crown and deliver the alluring and potentially outstanding prospect of back-to-back titles after making the Finals once again.
Mondelo and Co will go up against Beijing and it means a mouth-watering clash between arguably the WCBA's most productive stars in the shape of the USA's Maya Moore who plays for Shanxi and Australia's Liz Cambage, the marquee player for Beijing who played in the Finals last year with Zhejiang.
"Returning to play the WCBA Finals for the second consecutive year is both a dream and also a prize for a job well done to the players and especially the leadership of Maya Moore," explained Mondelo to FIBA.com
"Cambage will certainly be out to win and looking to avenge the defeat from last year.
"She is playing very well and for us, she is very difficult to stop.
"But, to successfully lower their shooting percentages, we must focus primarily on defending the rest of the Beijing team."
He added: "I think that the key is to win the first match, to make sure that the series returns home to us again.
"We will be playing against a very physical team and Maya must step forward as usual in terms of responsibility, but we will need performances from other players too."
Moore corralled a truly spectacular 42 points and 21 rebounds as Shanxi took down Zhejiang 80-72 to book their place, with fellow USA standout Brittney Griner claiming 31 points and 13 rebounds in defeat.
Cambage meanwhile fired 21 points and 11 rebounds going up against opposing center Sylvia Fowles, to help Beijing to a semi-final series deciding 72-67 success.
The title will be decided in a best of five series.
photos Janos Schmidt