Achieving back-to-back Final Four appearances in the FIBA EuroLeague Women’s competition is no mean feat.
But that’s exactly what our Great Britain star Karlie Samuelson achieved, as she and her Perfumerías Avenida teammates won a EuroLeague Women’s medal for the second straight year.
As the conclusion of her third season with the Spanish side nears, Samuelson has been able to head into a hectic period of games to close out the domestic season with another piece of silverware, after Avenida bagged a bronze medal at last weekend’s EuroLeague Women’s Final Four.
“This is my third season with Avenida and I think, including the last two seasons where we’ve made the Final Four of the EuroLeague back-to-back, the club has only reached that stage four times in its history, so it is really special.” Samuelson said.
“This year with the regular season being more normal, as opposed to last year in a ‘bubble’ where we won all the games, was even more challenging, so I’m just super proud of all of us. I wouldn’t say we expected to do this, nor to do it back-to-back, because making the Final Four is extremely difficult, so I am very, very proud of us.”
“I feel so much love from the GB community.”
Such is the success of GB’s players when competing for their clubs this season, you’d have done well to make your way through any given week this year and not seen some news somewhere of a British player achieving outstanding basketball feats somewhere in the world.
Samuelson and her GB Women’s teammates have secured many impressive wins in recent weeks particularly, and she discussed how proud she’s been to see her teammates thriving at club level.
“It is very exciting for British Basketball now. Every day somebody is doing something big, whether its Chan (Handy) winning her domestic league and cup, the London Lions girls killing it, Temi who had a great run in EuroCup, and the other girls coming up.
“It is exciting to see and it makes me proud to see British Basketball succeeding on so many different levels. I feel like I’ve become a little adopted Spaniard in a way(!), but I feel the love so much from the GB community and there is so much support behind us from the fans.”
“The next time we get together it’ll feel that much more special.”
The camaraderie between the Women’s team could hardly have been more obvious throughout this successful period for the players at a domestic level either, as they can all be seen congratulating and hyping each other up on social media and talking about each other in interviews.
The WNBA star, Samuelson, detailed just how much that connection means to her and her teammates throughout the season, and how excited she is to join up with GB in the autumn.
“We as players all support each other so much as well, we’re always reaching out to each other congratulating each other as much as we can. This season has been super, super busy for us all because we’ve all been so successful, but we find time to congratulate each other and stay in touch.
“I love being with the GB girls and the team. It is a strange feeling to have qualifying games so far apart, but it is the way it is and it just means the next time we get together it’ll feel that much more special.”
“What stood out for me is their tenacity.”
Whilst she is still very much a young player herself, Samuelson was part of a GB squad last November that welcomed much fresh talent into the mix, as some of the brightest young stars in British Basketball made their debut appearances for the senior team.
Still only 26 years old, Samuelson reflected on her time coming into the team as an emerging talent a few years ago, and how excited she is to help nurture this latest crop of top talent that is now coming through to the senior set-up.
“I had great veterans to support me as a new kid on the block that didn’t know what she was doing, such as Z (Azania Stewart), Joey (Leedham-Warner), Rachel (Vanderwal), Chan (Handy), Stef (Collins) and so many more to show me the ropes, so if I can help be a leader for the young players coming through I’d love to do that, but I can learn as much from them as they can from me.
“I got to talk to Holly (Winterburn) quite a bit in the last camp and she’s just impressive in general – I see her highlights everywhere, it feels like – but what stood about for me about these young players is just their tenacity and the excitement and buzz they brought to camp as well as their talent level.”
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