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12/06/2019
Long Read
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Power Rankings: Spain and Russia land on the podium

MUNICH (Germany)  - The second set of our three power rankings for the  FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 has dropped and it's time to check out who are the biggest movers and shakers after our original ranking last month.

RANK

NATION

MOVE

 

1

France surely remain favorites for the competition - even if they have been hit by absences to experienced players. Winger Diandra Tchatchouang and center Helena Ciak have been ruled out of Final Round during the past week,but that did not stop France handing out a double battering to Ukraine. The victories were fuelled by two big contributions from the hot-hand of Valeriane Ayayi who is on fire, while teenager Iliana Rupert might just be playing her way towards a final roster spot with some nice showings.

2

They've won most of their friendlies and while granted, Spain did lose that one game to Russia, which made people sit up and take notice, surely it is ridiculous to write-off the holders as being past their best. We are looking at it from a glass half-full standpoint and moving them up! Some new stars have emerged such as Andrea Vilaro, while they have more experience than just about any other team. Plus, now France are losing key players, maybe they are set to defend their title after all? Coach Mondelo has shown a ruthless streak again in cutting Maria Conde, who won gold in 2017 with the team.

Did we write off Russia too early? They are our biggest climbers from the first set of Power Rankings as they have seriously done the business during the past fortnight - including that win against reigning champions, Spain. Maria Vadeeva is looking unstoppable and it looks like her familiar partnership with Raisa Musina could give them the kind of potent one-two punch to push for a podium place. Even losing the option of having the naturalized and still injured Jamierra Faulkner does not seem to have hurt them - yet!

 

It's a slight fall for Belgium, since their results have been largely poor. They lost twice in Japan, have also bee defeated by Italy and Spain, but we can'tdrop them further since they have not had a full team out yet. Both Emma Meeseman and Kim Mestdagh parachuted in late because of WNBA commitments and so we are best to judge them in these next days when fully loaded and locked. The scoring form of Jana Raman has been a bonus despite the losses, with the forward turning up the dial in a big way!

It's a fall for Sweden from their lofty heights of our opening power rankings, since they have lost more games than they have won so far - plus they have been hit by injuries to the experienced Anna Barthold and dynamic Nathalie Fontaine. They will both be missed at Final Round and it will impact on the depth of Sweden.  The plus column has been the debut of WNBA draftee Regan Magarity who has looked very useful, while fringe players like Abigal Glomazic are turning up the competition to fill the gaps. The losses to Russia and Slovenia have at least been followed by a massive victory over Great Britain.

 

Italian hearts were in their mouths when Cecilia Zandalsini picked up a injury but she should be fine - unlike  veteran center Kathrin Ress who was ruled out. Still, you have to be impressed with the fact that despite two big absences, Italy have beaten  Belgium and Ukraine, although also losing to Ukraine (narrowly) and a vibrant Russia. Two big positives have been the displays of Elisa Penna and Sabrina Cinili who have played well, while Gio Sottana has led by example like always. They look well set and still have their biggest weapon to unleash!

It is going to plan as far as Slovenia are concerned. Their big-hitters in Nika Baric, Teja Oblak, Shante Evans and particularly Eva Lisec have all produced at various points during a nice preparation period so far. Yes, they suffered a surprise loss to neighbors Croatia, but Coach Grgic and his players can boast of beating three Final Round participants in the shape of Sweden, Great Britain and Czech Republic. 

The co-hosts welcomed back Jelena Brooks (nee Milovanovic) from her maternity leave and the Sopron Basket forward made an immediate impact with a nice scoring effort against Slovakia. It is hard to judge exactly where Serbia are at because Slovakia are not the strongest opponents. but 2-0 is a positive start to their preparation.  Tougher match-ups lie in wait and Coach Maljkovic could has pulled the trigger to show nobody  from her trusted core of players in these past years are safe from the chop. That was after she cut Sara Krjnjic - plus rising star hopeful, Ivana Raca.

Turkey have won more games than they have lost so far in the preparation period, so the direction is positive, but questions remain. The Stokes or Hollingsworth question remains and looks unresolved, with the former not exactly having shone so far in the preparation games. They have had some nice victories, but still look like they are blunt offensively and the 'bigs' are not offering much of a scoring return so far. Still, it is a work in progress and they started later than most, so we will see what happens in these last couple of weeks.

10

Some things are like the sun rising on a morning and then setting in the evening AKA Alina Iagupova erupting whenever she is on the floor with amazing scoring contributions. But unfortunately even her dazzling skills are not enough so far to keep the Ukraine ship from sinking. Where is the defense? They are leaking too many points and need to tighten up urgently. Have went down to France twice in a big way and also lost big to Italy after winning their opener. 

11

Still without a win in preparation and sweating heavily now on the participation of the Yelena Leuchanka who may not win her race against time to recover from injury, these are tense times. Fans will only see some sunshine when Alex Bentley is seen in a Belarus vest as the WNBA playmaker has not featured yet. The 'Group of Death' will look a lot more challenging if they can't get their best team out and a huge loss to Turkey was not a good sign.

12

 

 

So far the Czech Republic have beaten Portugal twice and lost narrowly to Slovenia and Croatia. However, they have largely been without their three biggest players in the form of Katerina Elhotova, Alena Hanusova and Kia Vaughn. The first two are recovering from injuries and should be fine and involved in coming weeks in the next preparation fixtures, although most worryingly is that Vaughn is yet to link up with her international team-mates. We have moved them up a slot on the basis that two wins, two close losses and some stars to come into the mix, means things are not too bad at this juncture. 

13

 

Latvia must wonder what else is going to hit them in terms of their roster, since the co-hosts are going to be massively short on quality and experience. They were not able to snap up Shey Peddy as they had hoped - something that would have compensated somewhat for the missing Kitija Laksa,  Anete Steinberga and Gunta Basko-Melnbarde. The latter ended her glittering career in a special occasion at a recent preparatory game and hats off to Gunta for a wonderful contribution to the women's game. The thinness of their roster is highlighted by the fact they may have to use 16-year-old rising star playmaker Elizabete Bulane. The co-hosts are 1-3 in preparation (although we didn't see what happened in a closed door game against Belarus). That said, they have played two tough teams in Russia and Spain, so are not looking for an easy route through prep. They did  also pick up a fine win against Hungary. So, despite everything that has been thrown at them, we have to move them up - slightly!

14

 

 

Hungary are yet to get a win on the board after losing in disappointing fashion to both Latvia and Turkey. Young guns Agnes Studer and Virag Kiss have also been subject of injury and illness which has not helped, while the newly naturalized Yvonne Turner is yet to make her debut. It just feels like Hungary have not been able to truly get started and that is why we're having to more or less push the pause button on them. We will know much more after the pending tournament in Prague which will help us gauge their prospects more accurately. 

15

 

After winning their group in the Qualifiers, things have not went according to plan during preparation for Great Britain as they wait to rack up a first success to restore confidence. They were sunk by Slovenia and more alarmingly were torn apart in a heavy loss against Sweden. Bright spots include the progress of fringe players such as Cheridene Green and Janice Monakana who may signal the heralding of a new generation. However, they really need to get Polish League MVP and WNBA Temi Fagbenle in the team and playing to get some confidence during this last fortnight of vital preparation.

16

 

While winning a competition would normally be a real cause for celebration, the fact that as one of the top 16 nations in Europe, Montenegro won the Small Countries tournament, means they are yet to face a serious top level opponent. Glory Johnson is yet to link up and play, they have had some injuries and are relying on a lot of younger and inexperienced players so far. We need to see them against a bigger and better opponent if they want to move up our rankings. 

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

FIBA