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Basketball - 03. July 2007.

Maltsi primed for move to Ros Casares

VALENCIA (Liga Femenina) Ros have enjoyed an annus mirabilis in the last 12 months, winning the Spanish league and cup double, the Supercup and the Copa Generalitat on home soil.

They also had a fine run in Europe, reaching the final of the EuroLeague Women in April before losing to Spartak Moscow Region.

Since then Ros have further strengthened their star-studded roster with the signing of Greece international Maltsi on a one-year contract.

Maltsi helped French side Bourges reach the Final Four of the EuroLeague Women last season - where they lost to Ros in the semi-finals - and the 28-year-old is hoping to get even further next time around after joining the Spanish outfit.

“I wanted to play for a team that really want to do something good in the EuroLeague next year and I think Valencia are one of those teams. I'm still going after my first title,” Maltsi said PA Sport.

“It is a very good and professional club. They did a very good job in the EuroLeague (last season), they look to have good chemistry as well,” added Maltsi, who hopes to be the final piece in Ros' EuroLeague puzzle.

“For sure they are a more complete team by having two players in every position. Last season they were missing a shooting guard, that's what I am and that's why I'm going there.”

Maltsi, who averaged 12.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during last season's EuroLeague Women, already has experience of playing in Spain having spent two seasons at Mann Filter Zaragoza and Real Club Celta Vigourban before joining Bourges in 2006.

She also has recent experience of playing on Ros' home court in Valencia, having been selected for the EuroLeague Women All Star Game which was staged there in March.

“I like Spanish basketball a lot,” said Maltsi on her decision to return south from France. “They play fast, but I liked Bourges basketball as well.

“Valencia is just something new for me and at that time I thought I needed a change.

“They are one of the best teams in Europe, too, and they have good goals for next season.

“They made me an offer at the right time. So this will be for next season, but I would like to play in France again sometime.”

Maltsi also admits that there were a number of things that attracted her to Ros other than the basketball - such as the great food and warm climate on the east coast of Spain.

“All that counts a lot!” she said. “As I said before, Valencia had some troubles in position two, I think I can fill this.

“They know me before from my years in Spain, so it was easier. They didn't take some risk I think.”

Spanish fans could be seeing a new-and-improved Maltsi this time around though, with the former Panathinaikos star admitting that playing in the EuroLeague Women has helped her develop as a player.

“It is one of the best leagues, probably the best right after the WNBA,” Maltsi said.

“It helped me to improve myself a lot, everything in this league is at a higher level, so if you want to do well in it you have to pull yourself up to that level. It made me a better player for sure.”

Maltsi is currently plying her trade in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, but looking ahead to her return to the Liga Femenina she is predicting big things for Ros next season.

Asked about what message she had for Ros supporters, she said: “Well, Ros Casares must defend their titles and position from last season, and all I have to say is that we will!”

Mike Perez, Madrid

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