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 Power Rankings: Spain and the Americas rise up as Greece and Latvia tumble
02/09/2018
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Power Rankings: Spain and the Americas rise up as Greece and Latvia tumble

TENERIFE (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 is just a few weeks away and we're ready with our second set of Power Rankings.

RANK

NATION

MOVE

 

1

(USA) With everyone having one eye on the WNBA Play-Offs, the USA's power is underlined by the sheer number of players they have involved in the post-season. Meanwhile Breanna Stewart is on a high after being named  2018 WNBA MVP, with the legendary Diana Taurasi also rolling back the years and strengthening her case to be heralded as the women's basketball GOAT. 

2

(ESP) The hosts are up and running in their preparation and made home advantage count as they took down Belgium and then neighbors France in Valencia over the weekend. Marta Xargay was on fire with  21 points, against the French while Cristina Ouvina, who has been playing her club basketball in Bourges, weighed in with  a 16-point cameo  during a double-digit 65-54 win.

(AUS) The Opals have named an exciting final squad for Tenerife, with Leilani Mitchell getting the nod in the naturalized spot, while there is also a slot for rising  teenage star, Ezi Magbegor. The only question is around preparation, with coach Sandy Brondello occupied by WNBA  duties. Until the Aussies get more prep games under their belt, it's hard to make a more accurate judgement of their potential. But they certainly have a class play-caller to utilize during tournament time and a level of personnel that screams of a podium finish.

(FRA) It was a mixed bag for Valerie Garnier and her team during their first prep outings as they struggled offensively against Spain, with only Sandrine Gruda looking near the top of her game. Of course she will play at a major tournament for the first time since Rio, having skipped the FIBA Women's EuroBasket last year. Despite the Spanish defeat, the way they demolished Latvia 82-66 in the previous friendly in Valencia was highly impressive, with Marine Johannes looking as entertaining and dynamic as ever. 

 

(CAN) The players are in an intensive camp and Canada are ready to go to work soon in the essential preparation games. It is Japan and USA later this week and it will be good to see them showing what they can do, since they will also play at the Antibes Tournament against France, Senegal and USA between September 15-17. Canada still look like a probable Top 5 team on paper and potential medal challenger, although they have lost some experience after post-Rio retirements.

(BEL) Still without Ann Wauters, things have taken a potential downturn in recent days after  another trio of big-hitters sidelined. Having lost to Spain in a preparation outing, they did beat Latvia, 61-53 - but injuries to Kim Mestdagh, Antonia Delaere and most worryingly kingpin Emma Meesseman, have placed a cloud over things. Meesseman was in clear pain as she went down and so have Belgium's dreams of a deep run just went up in smoke? We are crossing our fingers one of the tournaments biggest stars will be fine!

(CHN)  - China are celebrating an Asian Games gold medal and it was particularly satisfying as it was their big guns who fired them to the top of the podium. They beat a unified Korea team in the Final, with Ting Shao, Meng Li and Yueru Li all influential. China seem to be finding some rhythm and a much better chemistry and identity under Coach Xu Limin. They are looking  a dangerous unit right now.

(ARG) The next day or two may offer a true gauge of Argentina and their true potential. They have risen up our rankings as they are preparing for their Semi-Final and most likely a Final at the Sudamericano Femenino. They topped their Group with wins against Columbia, Peru and Ecuador. Tipped to meet Brazil in the title game, barring any upsets, can they take some morale-boosting silverware? Much will hinge on Andrea Boquete and Melisa Gretter continuing  their blistering form. 

(JPN) While it was third place at the Asian Games, Japan didn't field their bonafide World Cup line up, so only a minor fall in our rankings. The reigning Asian champions still look very capable on paper even after settling for the last podium step in Jakarta. We're looking forward to them going up against Canada in a few days when we will see where both teams are at in their preparation.

10

(TUR) - It's a modest climb for Turkey after they completed a pair of wins against Russia during preparation. That was impressive, although their opponents were without their leading star Maria Vadeeva who is occupied at the Los Angeles Sparks. The positive for Turkey was some nice displays and numbers from frontcourt duo Quanitra Hollingsworth and especially Tilbe Senyurek.

11

(KOR) They may have reached the Final of the Asian Games, but there is no doubt that the wider political positive of competing as a unified Korea could have also undermined preparations for the South. At least Park Jisu was on-song as Korea took silver behind China. These next two weeks now feel hugely important as the players come together in the post Asian Games period.

12

 (PUR) It's a rise in the rankings for Puerto Rico, after they celebrated ending an 8-year drought to lift the CentroBasket Women 2018 title on home soil. They beat traditional powerhouse Cuba in the Final, with Jennifer O'Neill crowned MVP after a stunning tournament. Yes, the competition was arguably weak outside of Cuba, but you can't put a price on confidence and  some winning momentum ahead of their FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup debut. 

13

(LAT) While Latvia were only just edged out by Belgium,  it was against a team that were hampered by injuries and absences. Most worryingly, there is no hiding from the wake-up call that was delivered by France in the Valencia tournament. They inflicted a huge loss on the Latvians and head coach Martins Zibarts bemoaned his teams  offensive shortcomings and especially their failures in transition and in free-throws. Although he did express how important it was to use these games to iron out the wrinkles ahead of their Tenerife debut.

14

(NGR) We are still waiting to assess the  preparation progress of D'Tigress as they are yet to go up against high level opposition in their warm-up program for Tenerife. Things are due to pick up in the next couple of weeks, but the big issue is that it is not giving new head coach Otis Hughley much of a chance to see his players against the kind of elite level they will face later this month. So much is going to fall on the shoulders of star forward, Evelyn Akhator.

15

(GRE) The results have not been going well for Greece during these recent preparation games - despite Evina Maltsi showing what a legend she is by passing the stunning 3,000 points landmark. Greece lost  both their games against Belgium recently and have had  injury concerns over Styliani Kaltsidou, who is at least back on the practise court now. They love to be written-off and will feel they are in a 'false' position in our rankings, but they need to show some teeth and progress to move their way up .

16

(SEN) There are 5 nations ranked lower in the official Nike FIBA World Rankings for Women that are heading for Tenerife, but still nobody lower in our list. Senegal must show they have more than just tradition to their name if they want to climb off the bottom spot. Most worryingly, head coach Cheikh Sarr has left out a number of key players from the preliminary squad such as two-time AfroBasket Women MVP Aya Traore and the highly-experienced Mame Marie Sy.

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author(s).

The first Power Rankings can be viewed HERE. 

FIBA