Jonquel Jones continued to build upon her professional basketball resume by helping UMMC Ekaterinburg win the 2021 EuroLeague Women’s championship back on April 18.
It was UMMC’s third-straight time achieving that feat and made it their sixth overall time winning the title. It was an experience that has motivated Jones ahead of the upcoming 2021 WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) season.
The 6’6’’ center for the Connecticut Sun opted to sit out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic being at its apex. Moving forward from that decision, she used her time playing overseas to stay sharp while helping the juggernaut UMMC squad prosper in EuroLeague Women’s action and in the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League.
After dominating the Women’s Euro League, UMMC moved on to capture the Russian Women’s League championship for the 13th time in a row, defeating Dynamo Kursk on April 27, in the title game. The final score was 91-70.
For Jones, being a member of the UMMC has been gratifying. UMMC’s run of dominance in both leagues is well documented and extensive. The “championship or bust,” standard the organization has set for themselves is something Jones said she appreciates highly.
“I’ve been able to add to the history on the Russian League side, but this is my first Euro League championship with this team. The first year my passport wasn’t approved by FIBA (International Federation of Basketball) in time. The second year we got cut short. So, this year, finally, I was able to win one with my teammates.
“When you look at the history of UMMC it’s honestly championship or bust and I love that about this organization.
“It’s been amazing. Last season was cut short because of COVID-19 and we weren’t able to finish the way we wanted to. This year feels like double gratification for us.”
Grounded by the well-wishes from her family here in The Bahamas, Jones shared that it made life a little easier to navigate through the global pandemic abroad. Now, after coming away with two championships amid the ongoing global controversy, she said there is a sure feeling of joy among the teammates.
“It's just pure joy. Mentally this year was so draining both on and off the court. So, this was the icing on top of the cake for me and all my teammates.
“Being overseas is difficult but this pandemic has brought a lot of emotions to mind that many folks are not used to dealing with, and I’m no exception. My family and faith got me through this overseas season for sure.”
Now, as Jones looks forward to rejoining her Sun team for the upcoming WNBA season, she aware of the task ahead. The Sun, however, will be without all-star forward Alyssa Thomas who suffered a torn Achilles back in January of this year.
In Jones’ absence, the Sun managed to make the playoffs inside their version of “The Bubble,” with a 10-12 record but lost in the first round after being swept 2-0 by the Las Vega Aces. In 2019 when Jones was on the floor, the Sun squad at full strength, played its way into the WNBA Finals, ultimately losing that best-of-five series to the Washington Mystics, 3-2.
“I think this overseas experience helps a lot with me missing WNBA action last year. I feel good, I’m in great shape, and I’m excited to get back out there and remind folks I still have it.
“I anticipate us to win a lot of games and have great momentum heading into the playoffs. It’s going to be different without Alyssa this year, so I’m interested to see the changes we make with us missing an all-star starter of her caliber,” she concluded.