Iceland energised by landmarks and an exciting evolution
REYKJAVIK (FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 Qualifiers) – For nations such as Iceland, success isn’t measured via a ticket to Final Round, but by evidence of evolution and the sight of more exciting new chapters lying in wait.
They might not be heading to Prague and Hradec Kralove, but the Islanders are certainly on a positive journey which resulted in some deserved high-fives when the curtain fell on the FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 Qualifiers earlier this week.
Back in November 2015, they embarked on a daunting mission to show they could be competitive and secondly, win their first ever game at this level.
Not only did they achieve both of those objectives, they finished with a pair of victories in Group E after signing off on a winning note with a 65-54 triumph at home to Portugal.
That came off the back of February’s pulsating 87-77 home win against eventual Group winners Hungary. In fact, Iceland handed their now Final Round bound opponents their only negative result.
Head coach Ivar Asgrimsdottir was beaming after his team racked up their second win – and he is already counting down the days until the qualifying for EuroBasket Women 2019 gets underway.
"In the first quarter [against Portugal] we were a little bit passive as we didn´t attack the basket and kept the ball high," reflected the play-caller.
"But as the game progressed, we started attacking more and the game came to us and we played great.
"Many players had big games on defence and offence and I am very proud of my team.
"We are in a rebuilding mode and are playing with a lot of new young players and they can play.
"One of our most experienced players only has seven or eight national team games under their belt, so the future in Iceland is very bright."
Iceland President Gudni Th. Johannesson and Iceland Basketball Federation President Hannes S. Jonsson
Recognition of their efforts also came via the presence of the country’s President Gudni Th. Johannesson, who is a regular visitor to basketball games involving his country.
While matching the exploits of their male counterparts in reaching EuroBasket Final Round is still some way off, Iceland do have another sports team to be proud of.
It’s also one which could get better in coming years; although after their exploits in the past 12 months, Iceland must deal with being elevated on the scouting reports of their future opponents across the Continent.