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33 Maeva Djaldi-tabdi (FRA)
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FaceTime support of French seniors as Djaldi-Tabdi looks to upset USA

UDINE/CIVIDALE DEL FRIULI (FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2017) - France standout Maeve Djaldi-Tabdi has revealed how senior French players have been backing them at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2017.

France have what many will consider the near-impossible task of dumping out holders USA in the Quarter-Finals in Udine, but the center is thankful that the team's exploits are being proudly followed by alumni of the competition and a former team-mate.

"When we win games, we get congratulatory tweets from players from the senior women's national team and that's always great," she said. "We also follow the boys and they follow us and the senior men too. Alexia Chartereau is one of my best friends, while Olivia Epoupa often sends me messages.

"Olivia also did a FaceTime call to talk to all of the team, to support us."

Epoupa in the 2013 title game in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

Epoupa played in the competition four years ago when France reached the Final, and as such knows what it is like to get a medal - as well as having to face the might of the USA.

Meanwhile, the opportunity for France to cause an upset would have been even higher had they been able to call upon Chartereau. She led her country to the title with an MVP performance at last year’s FIBA U18 Women's European Championship but was then ruled out because of being promoted to senior action at FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 Final Round last month.

Djaldi-Tabdi has been a shining light for France in the paint. She can draw strength from not only the input of senior players, but also her older sister who is another inspiring figure to help her through any obstacles on the road.

"We talk almost every night and she is my role model in basketball - she is the example I follow," smiled the center. "She started playing a long time ago and we talk about basketball a lot, but also about everything else too - we're very close."

It's great to play in this World Cup. It's been three years since my first one [at U17], when we didn't have a great result [8th]

Djaldi-Tabdi has needed a shoulder to lean on lately. A recent capitulation at the FIBA U20 Women's European Championship was horribly spectacular. Pipped by surprise package and history-making Slovenia in the Semi-Finals, France were then brutally dismantled in the Third Place game against Russia.

"We lost in this tournament and when you get to another competition, you want to do better," she conceded. "Marie-Paule [Foppossi], Hortense [Limousin] and I are even more eager to give everything to this team; and to this group."

J-J #Lemondeestanous 🌎

A post shared by Maeva Djaldi (@maevadjadjou) on

"It's great to play in this World Cup. It's been three years since my first one [at U17], when we didn't have a great result [8th]."

Even if they are shot down by the USA as almost everyone predicts, it gives Djaldi-Tabdi something to aim for - fifth place would still be an ambition.

The 18-year-old also has another target in her sights as she is quitting EuroCup Women basketball and some highly successful times with Flammes Carolo Basket to pursue an NCAA career.

First game against Nantes today ! #FCB #LFB 💪

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It is a route which is not all that common in France compared to many other European countries.

"Going to the United States is something that has always interested me," she explained. "When I left INSEP, there weren't many universities interested in me. Syracuse called me a lot and gave me good arguments and reasons, so I talked about it a lot with my mother and my sister.

"Mentally and physically, I think being over there will help me progress. I'll see if it works for me or not. Combining basketball and studies interests me - having the best of both worlds."

There will be a familiar face alongside her as a fellow freshman at Syracuse in the form of Latvian ace Digna Strautmane. The pair even started their respective campaigns in Udine by going up against each other in the first phase.

"We've talked about it every time we've seen each other here. We get along and she’s very nice," smiled Djaldi-Tabdi.