Our super 8 players to watch at #FIBAU18Europe Division B in Austria
OBERWART (FIBA U18 Women's European Championship Division B) - We've picked out just some of the players who could be stuffing the highlights reel at the FIBA U18 Women's European Championship Division B.
Dalia Donskichyte - Lithuania
The feisty guard will look to orchestrate things for Lithuania on the floor with her creativity and intensity. She will be central to their promotion prospects and while the playmaker is diminutive in terms of her physical stature, she still packs the kind of basketball punch that can easily floor her opponents. She will want to make up for being part of last year's team that got relegated, when she contributed more than 12 points and almost 3 assists per game. Expect that level of productivity to be turned up if her country are to escape Division B.
Goksen Fitik - Turkey
One of the big hopes for the future of Turkish basketball, Fitik looks well placed to make a future transition to the senior team. A shooting guard who can handle the ball, tenacious defensively, as well as being able to put points on the board, this is her first outing at U18. But if she can replicate her performances from her first two summers playing U16, then she will be one to watch for sure. Keep an eye out for her deceptive quickness, while she is always happy to take responsibility during crunch time too.
Malene Pedersen - Denmark
With a glut of interesting rising stars and a recent senior team title success at FIBA Small Countries Women in Cork, women's basketball in Denmark is on a nice upward curve. The emergence of fresh young talent such as Pedersen is exciting and she showed her full skill-set at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship Division B last summer in Skopje. She turned plenty of heads with an all-action haul of more than 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per outing. Anything near that again on Austrian soil and we will all be even more impressed!
Awak Kuier - Finland
Kuier has good cause to consider herself as the biggest name heading to Austria since she is one of only a handful of players who have played minutes in the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 Qualifiers. She played for Finland against the likes of the mighty France and their quality frontcourt which was packed with EuroLeague and EuroCup Women stars. So, this should be a time to shine again with plenty of points, boards and blocks for her team. The Finnish forward is also known for her dunking ability, which has captured the imagination of an ever-growing army of fans across social media channels.
Natalia Otkhmezuri - Georgia
History was made last summer as Georgia stepped out for the first time in Division B at U18 level and it was Otkhmezuri who ensured an entire new chapter had some smiles in it. That is because Georgia collected their first-ever win at the event when they beat Switzerland and then followed it up with a victory against Moldova. Now they are back again and pinning their hopes on Otkhmezuri. You can hardly blame them for this, since she was spectacular in Dublin last year. As the second-highest scorer in the competition, she amassed a sparkling 19 points, 5 rebounds and a near 3 assists per game.
Zeynep Gul - Turkey
Another highly-rated Turkish prospect, Gul can inspire her country alongside her team-mate Goksen Fitik to perhaps drive a successful promotion push. With her colleague directing traffic in the backcourt, it will be left to the forward to carry the fight in the paint. Gul is strong, will get up and down the floor well and be highly competitive on the glass. The level of her potential and maturity can be measured by the fact that she completed the relatively rare accomplishment of competing at three U16 tournaments.
Holly Winterburn - Great Britain
Having recently scooped the Women's British Basketball League Young Player of the Year award for her work with Leicester Riders, Winterburn comes into this summer full of confidence. She can also draw strength from her previous displays in a Great Britain vest as this is her fourth summer competing for her country. Her past two campaigns have seen her drop almost 14 points per game in each tournament. As well as scoring from outside or driving to the bucket, she will also be handling the ball a lot and bringing others into the game. A standout player, Winterburn has a big future ahead of her and is tipped to make the step to the GB Seniors.
Kseniya Malashka - Belarus
Preparing to head to the NCAA to compete for the VCU Rams, Malashka can also expect to be called upon by her country at future senior tournaments - such is her potential. She has already got the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2016 on her resume. The forward has a lengthy list of attributes, including a nice shooting range. ability to post-up her opponents and go to work - as well as scoring off the dribble. When you throw nice vision and passion skills into the mix, there is so much to love about the undoubted kingpin of this Belarus side. Malashka has already racked up two huge tournament double-doubles at U16 level and was not far away from making it three in a row last summer.