Our 12 players to watch in the EuroLeague Women Qualifiers
MUNICH (EuroLeague Women) - The EuroLeague Women Qualifiers are about to get underway and there are several players on our radar as we look forward to the opening games of the season..
Here is just a few of those to look out for during these Qualifying match-ups, as several clubs pursue a coveted ticket to the Regular Season.
Astou Ndour - Cukurova
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Ndour last played in the competition a couple of years ago. She became an Olympian, was crowned a FIBA Women’s EuroBasket winner, has played in the WNBA and was recently a member of the All-Star Five at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Playing in Turkey each week in an even more demanding domestic league should help as well. Everyone is looking forward to seeing her skills in EuroLeague Women again – but will it only be in the Qualifiers, or the Regular Season too?
Abby Bishop - KSC Szekszard
The Australian has evaded this competition throughout her career and has finally got the opportunity to shine as part of an exciting and ambitious KSC Szekszard ,whose fight for the Hungarian Championship against Sopron will be a joy again this year. For now, they are focused on trying to finally make the EuroLeague Women Regular Season and Bishop will be integral to this. With WNBA minutes on her resume, the Olympian knows the game and will be looking to make up for lost time by providing the necessary points, rebounds and interior passing skills for her team.
Maria Araujo - Wisla CANPACK
With many observers expecting the impressive Spaniard to sneak onto the roster for the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, Araujo has had to deal with the disappointment of not making it. That rejection is only likely to spur her onto greater things and time is on her side since it is less than 18 months since she was voted MVP at the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship. She has also featured in the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2019 Qualifiers, so knows she is on the radar. Now, a strong rookie season for Wisla will help her cause enormously.
Anete Steinberga - Reyer Venezia
It was a bitter-sweet experience at Latvia’s first ever FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup as her country lost all three games. Steinberga did enhance her own reputation as she dropped 30 points on USA to join a rather exclusive club of players who have managed this feat. She will have a big role to play for her new team as Reyer Venezia finally take that step up towards EuroLeague Women after a long association with EuroCup Women – making the Final last year, but losing to Galatasaray. Steinberga knows both competitions and should be a lock to post a strong campaign.
Brionna Jones - Nadezhda
Jones was a rookie in EuroLeague Women last season at Nadezhda and despite some coaching changes and being in a very different environment to what she was used to, managed to post some very impressive numbers. Not least, her shooting and finishing at the bucket which identified her as one of the most deadly ‘bigs’ in the competition. Now she will be looking to take it up a gear and be a leader for the Russians again – this time working under another play-caller as Spaniard Victor Lapena becomes the latest coach to parachute into Russia.
Jolene Anderson - Reyer Venezia
It doesn’t matter which section of the box score you are looking at, the chances are that Anderson will appear prominently in most, with the all-action star a veteran of EuroLeague Women and liable to have a positive impact on any game. Having made the move away from Famila Schio to derby rivals Reyer Venezia, she will be looking to make sure she joins her former club in the Regular Season. A game-winner in waiting and with the priceless know-how of this competition, she will be a leading light for the Italians.
Livia Gereben - KSC Szekszard
One of the standout stars of the FIBA youth summer, Gereben was superb on home soil in Hungary at the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship. The teenager is eligible to return next year to the event and will resume her burgeoning career with KSC Szekszard, where she is clearly evolving her skills very nicely. She has spoken of the desire to play against one of her idols Sonja Petrovic and if the Hungarian club can make the Regular Season, she may get that chance. She is a smart and efficient player who seems to have countless ways of scoring in and around the basket despite her modest size, so if she can prove it defensively, Gereben could be a EuroLeague Women performer for many years to come.
Alina Iagupova - Cukurova
Few explanations are required for the Ukraine national team ace who is liable to erupt and show-out in any game she plays. She regularly posts eye-bulging numbers, can get to the hoop more athletically than most and has an insane shooting range compared to most of her peers. She seems to have had some fun representing Cukurova and is back for a second season as the ambitious Turkish side looks to enter the competition for the very first time.
Kristine Vitola - TTT Riga
It’s been a while since the tournament was graced by the famous Latvian powerhouse club and if TTT Riga are going to make it past the Qualifiers, the likes of Vitola really need to put their foot on the gas at both ends of the floor. While her country struggled at the recent FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Tenerife, Vitola reminded everyone of her capabilities with an impressive individual showing. She was second in efficiency, scoring and rebounding, as well as third in assists. Having played in EuroCup Women in the past two years with Galatasaray and Gdynia respectively, the forward will want to seal a return to the EuroLeague Women Regular Season.
Jordin Canada - Wisla CANPACK
Not many players get to experience and enjoy the thrill of a WNBA Championship during their rookie season, but that is exactly what happened to Canada at the Seattle Storm last month. Now she has eyes on translating that success to her first overseas assignment in Krakow with Wisla CANPACK. The UCLA graduate enjoyed a super College career in the States and will be out to make her name for herself on her first European adventure. Much will hinge on whether she can keep her perimeter percentage respectable.
Mame Marie Sy-Diop - ESBVA-LM
It was a historic FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup for Senegal and for African in general, with Sy-Dip proudly helping her team post a very encouraging and landmark showing. A first win against European opposition in the tournament was huge for Senegal as they underlined their potential by beating Latvia. The forward is well known in EuroLeague Women quarters with her work at ESBVA-LM and is back on board with the French side who have also made plenty of changes. Her third successive year in Villeneuve and in this competition will be critical as ESBVA looking to make it past a tricky qualifiers tie.
Pinelopi Pavlopoulou - OIympiacos
While a lot of attention has understandably been placed on the rising stars of Greek basketball such as Maria Fasoula and Eleanna Christinaki, it was arguably Pavlopoulou who did more to enhance her reputation at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Having graduated from Washington State, the guard will now begin her pro-career with Greek giants Olympiacos as they try to make their first Regular Season. If she can continue her form from Tenerife last month, this will be a big bonus. She led Greece in efficiency after making a well selected 12 of 17 and also took care of the ball very well.