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Power Rankings: France take top spot and some other heavyweights struggle
22/05/2019
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Power Rankings: France take top spot and some other heavyweights struggle

MUNICH (Germany)  - The first of our power rankings for the  FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 has landed as we take a look at how each nation is shaping up, now the initial squads have all been announced.

Most nations are now working hard in their respective camps and will be competing in preparation games during coming weeks, which will give us more food for thought for when we draw up our second set of rankings! 

RANK

NATION

MOVE

 

1

France must be favorites to take their first title in a decade. After three silvers in a row, it’s time to be the bride instead of the bridesmaid. They have a classy and deep frontcourt with Sandrine Gruda, Helena Ciak, Alexia Chartereau and Endy Miyem leading the way. There is a special talent in Marine Johannes, while Valeriane Ayayi has been on fire, they have amazing young prospects and also the newly arrived Bria Hartley just won the Turkish title ahead of her Final Round debut. 

2

Belgium are riding high after their historic bronze in 2017 and an amazing debut at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup last year. They may be in the ‘Group of Death’ but have all the momentum and some amazing players like Emma Meesseman, Julie Allemand, Kim Mestdagh and the legend that is Ann Wauters. They are beautiful to watch too, so get a bonus point from us. 

 

Shocked to see Sweden riding so high in our first Power Rankings? Well, don’t be, because they might just ‘do a Belgium 2017’ . It looks like they have a really sweet mix of experience and youth, with a lot of star quality and a rock solid backbone of team-focused players. This might be the best team Sweden have ever put out, with the Eldebrink twins, Amanda Zahui, Farhiya Abdi and rising star Klara Lundquist just some of the reasons to be hyped about their prospects.

Defending champions Spain have been rocked by the loss of 2017 MVP Alba Torrens and that leaves an immeasurable void, which can’t be easily filled. It's a massive blow and with several other senior players not having been in top gear during the 2018-19 club season, could the podium be out of reach for the first time in 8 years? It’s hard to back against the record of the super Lucas Mondelo, but is an alarm bell ringing and have the newer younger players got what it takes?

The news that Alina Iagupova will be stepping out after all with the team is incredibly positive for Ukraine and enough to turn tears of despair to joy. And, that is even before a ball has been bounced. Having her phenomenal skills means Ukraine are no longer dark horses and can realize their dreams of finally making the Top 8 and after that, who knows? Taisiia Udodenko was outstanding two years ago and will be great again, veteran Oleksandra Radulovic is back on board and if they can also persuade Olesia Malashenko and Valeriya Berezhynska to play – wow.

 

Belarus may never be able to field a team like this again. They will possibly have their best ever line up at this event if everyone plays and even better than 2007 when they won bronze. That is because it looks like the legendary Yelena Leuchanka is back alongside Anastasiya Verameyenka for the ‘Twin Towers’ option, the classy veteran Katsiaryna Snytsina is still on the wings, Mariya Papova is on fire and they have some rising stars too. It’s incredible how much they are being overlooked in the ‘Group of Death’.

Italy have to think about playing without the legendary and now retired Raffaella Masciadri, while Kathrin Ress is struggling with injury. But, with the brilliant Giorgia Sottana and Cecilia Zandalasini - plus some outstanding young prospects such as Olbis Futo Andre, hopes are high that play-caller Marco Crespi can deliver a deep run in the competition. 

Slovenia are gunning for more history and that means passing the Group stage for the first time. They have one of the most impressive guard rotations around with Nika Baric, Teja Oblak, Annamaria Prezelj and rising star Zala Friskovec. While they have Shante Evans and Eva Lisec in the paint, as lack of depth in the  frontcourt rotation means it is at the mercy of injury and foul trouble!

Have you any idea how Serbia will do in this tournament? We also have no clue! Maybe Coach Marina Maljkovic is wondering too. That is why they start ‘middlish’ in our rankings as they could reign supreme or crash and burn. Jelena Milovanovic-Brooks coming back alongside fellow new  mom Miljana Bojovic is great news, Sonja Petrovic and her world class talent could save the day, while if Aleksandra Crvendakic can also step up and Ana Dabovic finds the hot-hand, they might be tough to slow down. But who knows?

10

Russia went unbeaten during the Qualifiers, but probably could and should have lost some games. Russia are sweating on the fitness of their new naturalized option Jamierra Faulkner who didn’t even play at all in 2018-19. At least they have the likes of Maria Vadeeva and Evgenia Belyakova to call upon. 

11

This will be the first ever Final Round in memory that Turkey will be without both legends and retirees Nevriye Yilmaz and Birsel Vardarli Demirmen. It didn’t go well last year in Tenerife at the Worlds. The option of Kiah Stokes is a boost, but then again, Quanitra Hollingsworth has been a colossus so why the change?  That has got us wondering. Also injuries and a lack of rest with the Turkish Play-Offs only just finishing are a worry. 

12

 

Great Britain finished top of their Qualifiers Group and announced their squad last weekend in what is probably the best they have ever had. Temi Fagbenle is Polish League MVP, her CCC Polkowice team-mate Jo Leedham-Warner was on fire for her country and the addition of Karlie Samuelson of the Los Angeles Sparks has us questioning whether the Brits are still underdogs?

13

Czech Republic have bounced back wonderfully from their disastrous campaign as co-hosts two years ago, even beating the highly-fancied Belgium during the Qualifiers. Much credit is due to Coach Stefan Svitek, but they weren't in the toughest of Groups, have lost Petra Zaplatova to injury and there have been doubts about the participation of Julia Reisengerova. 

14

The addition of Sopron and EuroLeague Women standout Yvonne Turner is huge for Hungary and the have had a succession of excellent guards in Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot. But, what they gain in the backcourt, they lose under the basket and their frontcourt rotation looks wafer thin without Cyesha Goree and Tijana Krivacevic. 

15

 

Latvia have been left reeling from a string of bad news and it has been confirmed that wing ace Kitija Laksa won't play because of her long-term injury, Gunta Basko-Melnbarde has announced her retirement and the paperwork for naturalized TTT Riga guard Shey Peddy is still not signed off. Worrying times  for the co-hosts.

16

 

The departure of play-caller Roberto Iniguez since they qualified is a blow for Montenegro. The legendary Jelena Skerovic takes the reins with no big coaching experience. Their rotation is short and after going 0-3 in 2017, the pressure is on - especially with the likes of Iva Perovanovic also retiring like Skerovic. They will be relying heavily on Glory Johnson.

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

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