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09/05/2013

Lucas Mondelo and César Rupérez renew in China

Spanish coaches Lucas Mondelo and César Rupérez, after becoming myths in China winning the 2012-13 WCBA Championship (first time for a new promoted team), have just signed their contracts to extend their stay at Shanxi Rui Flame during the 2013-14 season.

Wang Haizhen, Shanxi team´s owner, has decided to keep the successful Spanish coaches to try to face a very difficult title defense, due to the strength of their opponents (finalist powerhouse Zhejiang has signed Britney Griner) and the loss of key players that will return to their mother teams after finishing their loans.

Lucas Mondelo is currently the most successful coach in Europe in the last years.

Lucas won the Euroleague, the Spanish League and the Spanish SuperCup in 2011, the Spanish Cup, the European Super Cup and the Spanish SuperCup in 2012, the Chinese League in 2013, won the Gold Medal in the U20 European Championship in Serbia 2011, the Silver Medal in the U20 European Championship in Latvia 2010, also the Silver Medal in the U19 World Championship in 2009 and won 38 games in a row counting League and Euroleague from December 2010 to November 2011 (almost 1 year unbeaten).

Last season, Lucas and César managed to make a Championship team with a pretty average roster and starting players that had been loaned by other clubs because they thought that in a weak team like Shanxi they could have the playing time that they wouldn´t have there. Two good examples are the shooting guard  Zhang Wei and the center Dong Yu.

Also they made of point guard Jinzhu Wu the MVP of the Finals (award onlny can be given to chinese players) after averaging 3.2 points per game in the previous season and after going down to second division two years ago.

They did also a great job with Ma Xueya, 19 year old player who had not even played in 1st division yet, and averaged 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in the semifinals against Beijing and despite being injured produced also 11.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in the Finals against Liz Cambage´s Zhejiang, the big favourite. 

After her great performance in the playoffs, Ma Xueya has been called by the Chinese Senior National Team.

Lucas Mondelo and Cesar Rupérez built their offensive game through the passing skills and experience of 38 year old South Korean XianMin Zheng, who helped a lot to the team with her strong character and leadership.

They also maximized the offensive arsenal of superstar Maya Moore, who averaged 38.6 points 12.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game during the season, increasing her performancen in the Finals with 41.5 points 12.5 rebounds 6.2 assists and 58.2 in efficiency per game.

Maya was also key in the defensive end, "flying" to help in the defense with Cambage and being alsways a positivie leader for her teammates during the season.

Lucas and César also had ready other players like Liang Ma or Jun Shan Zhou who were key during the finals, helping the team after the starting post players were early loaded with fouls trying to stop Cambagge.

Despite making the miracle happen last season, the Spanish coaches are ambitious and kowning that the challenge will be even more difficult this season, they will try to bring new success to Shanxi Rui Flame and to their loyal fans. 

More than 9000 people were in the gym in the regular season game against Beijing and also during the Playoffs, cheering for Shanxi.

Lucas Mondelo and César Rupérez are very popular in the city and also with Shanxi fans who like to show them their passion after the games and also receive them often in the airport after the away games.

WCBA continues growing as a very strong league, after already having last season some of the world´s best players like Maya Moore, Elizabeth Cambage, Sophia Young, Tamika Catchings, Camille Little or Jayne Appel.

Zhejiang, the richest club in China, has made one more effort to try to win the Championship signing the 1st pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft and probably the best post player in the world right now, 6'8 american with a 7'4 wingspan Britney Griner.

The rest of the Chinese teams also will be competitive and are already signing very high level imports.

Big congratulations to Lucas Mondelo and César Rupérez for their new contract and lot of luck and success in their new challenge!










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