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Our 12 super young guns ready for Final Round
MUNICH (Germany) - There could be some amazing young talents stepping out at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 in Latvia and Serbia and we've picked out some of the very best.
While this is still subject to each player being selected on the final rosters for their respective nations, here are the leading candidates born in 1998 or afterwards, who you need to keep your eyes on!
Olbis Futo Andre - Italy
A debut at Final Round with Italy awaits for Andre, having made a very nice impact in the Qualifiers. She was given an opportunity to shine by Marco Crespi and grabbed her chance with both hands. A rebounding machine, she has also just signed off a first EuroLeague Women campaign and lifted an Italian Championship with Famila Schio. Those experiences will help the 20-year-old, in what could be a significant role as Italy are not blessed with an extensive frontcourt rotation.
Maria Vadeeva - Russia
Vadeeva needs little introduction of course and it is amazing that she is already preparing for an astonishing third Final Round appearance. Recently crowned a EuroLeague Women winner for a second time, a FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup MVP in 2017 and having also played in the WNBA since her last FIBA Women's EuroBasket appearance two years ago, the Russian ace will be better equipped than ever to tear it up in the paint. She will be the centerpiece of her team's challenge and expect her to rack up big numbers as she continues being a leader and near-veteran, way, way ahead of time. Maybe even a decade ahead of time!
Alexia Chartereau - France
This will be a second Final Round appearance for Chartereau, who competed in the title game for France two years ago as she scooped a silver medal. She also stepped out at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018, which was her first global outing and will arrive at the event in good form, having been voted as the 2018-19 EuroLeague Women Young Player of the Year by fans. The forward will once again use her nice shooting touch and range as part of an impressive French forward line.
Klara Lundquist - Sweden
These are exciting times for Sweden as they eye up a genuine shot at making a deep run in the competition and the emergence of a real gem in the shape of rising star Lundquist means their backcourt options are strengthened. She has starred at youth level, gave some nice glimpses of her potential during the qualifiers and was a standout in EuroCup Women with Sodertalje. Next season she is going to turn up the career dial in France with BLMA, who have recognized her creative and scoring abilities.
Ivana Raca - Serbia
It remains to be see if the Wake Forest forward will make the cut for what would be a fairytale first Final Round on Serbian soil. She certainly has a reasonable chance of getting the nod as she represents the future of a Serbian frontcourt that looks like it needs some fresh blood. Raca was very impressive last year at U20 level, helping her nation to take silver in Sopron. Her mobility and skilled touch both around the basket and beyond, could be tempting for head coach Marina Maljkovic to utilize. As with many younger players, much will hinge on whether she can convince the play-caller she can do the job defensively having never played at the elite level previously.
Reka Lelik - Hungary
A massive talent, the do-it-all style of Lelik means she could genuinely post a breakthrough tournament on her debut appearance at Final Round. She only appeared in a couple of the Qualifiers, but her record at youth level is hugely impressive. She has regularly racked up big numbers in points, rebounds and assists, which showcase her all-around skill-set and after a very productive domestic campaign with NKE-Csata, she looks ready to take this next step.
Raisa Musina - Russia
With almost 12 points and 6 rebounds during the Qualifiers, there is no doubt that Musina is a key player for Russia already and will be expected to shine. Indeed she will need to, since Russia have to punch their way out of the 'Group of Death' and so her top-scoring with 17 points recently in the eye-catching preparation victory against Spain was particularly noteworthy. Since 2017 when she debuted, Musina has been drafted to the WNBA, won the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup and was crowned a EuroLeague Women champion a couple of months ago. Although she may be a little under-cooked, since court time with UMMC is not easy to come by last season. At least she will be fresh as she gets set to make the most of her impressive skills.
Zala Friskovec - Slovenia
Slovenia continue to ensure that the conveyor belt of talent they have shown during these last few years keeps on rolling. Friskovec has had a stunning youth career and when promoted to the senior side for the Qualifiers, she was able to demonstrate just how important she could be in the short, medium and long term for her country. The guard is super-smart, has a sky-high basketball IQ, can make clutch shots and handles the ball nicely. She also gained valuable EuroCup Women experience last season with Cinkarna Celje.
Ilayda Guner - Turkey
It was a big thrill for Guner to make her major tournament debut with Turkey on the global stage when former head coach Ekrem Memnun threw her a roster spot for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018. While minutes were sparse during a difficult competition for her country, the experience will have made her an even better player. She has size, skills and is a great prospect who continues to evolve her game. Efficient and a nice finisher, she has just posted another nice year with Istanbul Uiversitesi in the highly rated and competitive Turkish League.
Veronika Vorackova - Czech Republic
It must just feel nice for Vorackova to actually play some basketball after she was forced to sit out what had been expected to be an exciting freshman year in the NCAA. An issue with eligibility at Syracuse and no participation during the Qualifiers either, means the versatile rising star will be itching to get big minutes and remind us all of her qualities. Especially after last summer was so memorable as she was crowned MVP at U20 Division B as she took Czech Republic to promotion.
Agnes Studer - Hungary
Perpetual motion and with some crazy good handles, as well as the ability to hit a big shot too, there is a lot to love about Studer. She has now signed off her youth career, with the playmaker already having demonstrated her capacity at the senior level by playing in all 6 qualifiers and posting an impressive double-digit scoring return. Studer has also stood out in EuroCup Women with KSC Szekszard and with the naturalized Yvonne Turner now likely to eat up some of her minutes, the pressure will be on her to respond positively.
Iliana Rupert - France
It might be a longshot that Rupert actually makes the final roster for France, who are already blessed with an array of top frontcourt talents, but if she does sneak a place on the bench, she is capable of contributing. Her 11 points in the fist prep game against Ukraine this past weekend gave a window into her potential. It was also evidenced by her performances during her first year with Bourges Basket, including in the French Cup Final when she was excellent. She may still only be 17-years-old, but many believe she could be the biggest French talent of a generation and a dominant figure for the next 15 years. Her displays at youth level have been devastating and returned multiple individual awards.