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Diana Taurasi
USA - Taurasi continues to amaze

EKATERINBURG (EuroLeague Women/Olympics) - From one week to the next, it's difficult to pick out the top USA player competing in the EuroLeague Women.

The Americans are the players who dominate in the competition and three in particular have stood out in 2011-12 in Tina Charles of Wisla Can-Pack Krakow and UMMC Ekaterinburg duo Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi.

The last of them, Taurasi - who will stand an excellent chance of walking into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame one day - hit three of her six shots from long range and finished with 24 points in UMMC Ekaterinburg's latest romp on Wednesday, a 94-75 rout of ZVVZ USK Prague.

It was a fitting performance for a player who was announced several hours later as the 2012 USA Basketball Female Athlete Of The Year.

Taurasi has captured the honor now three times in her illustrious career.

The 1.82m guard always helps her teams win in a myriad of ways.

A player who won NCAA titles at the University of Connecticut and one who owns three Olympic gold medals, including one from last year's Summer Games in London, the 30-year-old Taurasi continues to amaze.

Her national team boss in London, Geno Auriemma, knows Taurasi as well as anyone because he also coached her for four years at UConn.

When USA Basketball announced that Taurasi had captured their prestigious Player of the Year award, Auriemma said: "I think Diana was absolutely spectacular as a leader on and off the court (in London)."

Auriemma, a co-recipient of the 2012 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year Award with men's national team boss Mike Krzyzewski, added: "I’m constantly amazed by her will to win, her drive and how much she makes everyone around her better.

"It was a great experience for me to get to coach her again. I enjoyed every minute of it.

"Winning the gold medal, and her playing such a big part in it, put a real exclamation point on the whole summer."

While she is a star in the WNBA with Phoenix and is always a leading player in Europe, no matter what club she plays for, Taurasi says there is nothing like putting on the red, white and blue shirt.

"Twelve years ago I wore my first USA jersey, and the feeling of honor and excitement never diminishes," she said.

"I had the opportunity to learn from the best, play with the best and be coached by the best.

"This honor is very special because it is in recognition of everyone who has played for our country."

Taurasi cried on the podium at the London Olympics and later explained why, saying she’d had the realization that it could be her last appearance at a Games with competition for places in the American squad so fierce.

The chances are very good, though, that Taurasi will continue to be a part of the American squad for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

At the start of 2013, there is no question she remains one of the best players in the game.


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