Greco signs up for another European tour of duty

LA CRESCENTA — Before focusing on her plans for life after playing basketball, Michelle Greco had expressed a desire to extend her current professional career for at least a couple more years.

The former Crescenta Valley High standout is now set to do just that after signing a two-year contract to return to Levoni Taranto of the Italian Women’s League, where she has played for the last two seasons.

“I actually thought this past season was going to be my last season, but in the offseason I was able to negotiate my contract and my agent did a really good job with that,” said Greco, who has also played professionally in Greece and Israel since winning the 2004 WNBA title with the Seattle Storm. “I couldn’t be happier. ...I’m doing well out there.”

Greco’s desire to return to the league was likely at least partly motivated by the way the last season ended.

Levoni Taranto, formerly known as Pasta Ambro Taranto, was heavily favored to win the 2008 Italian League Serie-A championship and had homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

One game away from reaching the finals, the team suffered a stunning season-ending loss on April 23.

Taranto led Phard Napoli by 13 points entering the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold the lead and lost the game, 67-66, and the best-of-three semifinal series, 2-1.

“It left a bitter taste in my mouth,” Greco said. “The Italians are great fans, but they love you when you win and they hate you when you lose.

“We were booed right out of that gym when we lost at home [in front of] a sold-out crowd.”

Greco’s confident that with the team Taranto returns next season, there will be a chance for atonement.

“We have the same team coming back, except we’ve made a few more additions to our team,” she said. “Hopefully we can pull it out.”

While Greco chases the elusive Serie-A title, her aspirations for coaching will have to wait a bit longer.

The all-time Falcons and two-time Pacific-10 Conference season scoring leader has professed a desire to someday return to her college alma mater in a coaching role.

Another pet project, her plans to open a women’s sports-themed restaurant in Westwood, will also take a backseat to playing.

“Now we’re working on getting investors and that kind of thing,” Greco said. “I think it’s going to be a slow project, but I hope it ends up turning into something down the line because I’d love to transition into that.”

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