30 July, 2022
07 August
7 Ajsa Sivka (SLO)
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Six ballers ready to shine at the #FIBAU18Europe Division B in Sofia

SOFIA (Bulgaria) - The FIBA U18 Women's European Championship 2022, Division B will see 18 nations fighting it out for promotion to the top tier, with many relying on some stellar rising stars.

The talent on show in the Bulgarian capital will be significant and below are just some of those that could be high on the watchlist - subject to selection and availability - when the action tips off on Saturday, July 30.

Dorja Iva Zaja - Croatia

The MVP of one of the FIBA U18 Women's European Challengers 2021, Zaja is likely to be even more impactful this year as she continues her evolution into one of the most exciting Croatian players coming through their talent pipeline. The forward was exceptional,  averaging a double-double last year of 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds.   

No stranger to individual accolades, she was in the All-Star Five at U16 level three years ago and has put in some absolutely phenomenal displays in her homeland and in WABA for KK Tresnjevka 2009.  If she continues her sharp upwards trajectory and keeps working hard, she is likely to soon be competing for a spot with the senior Croatia team. 

Ajsa Sivka - Slovenia

Excellent at the recent FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup in taking Slovenia to four historic victories in their first-ever edition of the prestigious event, she is showing that Slovenia could be future-proof with her talent. Her all-around skills are exciting a lot of people and it's no wonder Tony Parker signed her to continue her education with LDLC ASVEL Feminin.

Now she is looking forward to playing with Italian giants Beretta Famila Schio after they swooped for her services. Her do-it-all ability on the wings, in particular, is a hugely appealing aspect of her game and she will be a major difference-maker in Slovenia's promotion push. Last year she was MVP of the FIBA U16 Women's European Challenger in Matosinhos.

Gabriela Falcao - Portugal

The combined strength and shooting range of Falcao will be a major bonus for Portugal in this tournament and not least because she will arrive in excellent form. The forward racked up a sparkling 25 points and 7 rebounds in a preparation game against Division A Belgium, with the 4-of-5 from downtown speaking volumes about why she is a tough defensive assignment for anybody.

She was rock solid last year at the FIBA U18 Women's European Challengers when Portugal came out on top in Riga to take the title in that tournament. Falcao has also just opted to continue her basketball career Stateside in Philadelphia with La Salle Explorers.

Marija Avlijas - Serbia

The ability of Avlijas to put points on the board in a hurry and score freely and in different ways is something that showed clearly last summer. She was the MVP of the FIBA U16 Women's European Challenger in San Fernando when she accumulated 25.2 points,  4.4 rebounds and almost 2 assists per outing. 

Since then, she has participated in the Basketball Without Borders Europe camp which further underscores the way she has jumped onto the rising star radar. Meanwhile, at club level, she has impressed already suiting up with Crvena Zvezda and got to taste minutes in EuroCup Women last season.

Miky Panait - Romania

If Romania wants to make a challenge for the latter stages of this competition, they will need someone that can be a momentum-shifter and game-winner. That player could be Panait, since the guard showed that she can play impressively when handing out a superb 6.2 assists per game at the FIBA U16 Women's European Challenger in Piestany last year. 

At club level, Manait has made strides in the Romanian League with CS Agronomia Bucuresti, so it will be interesting how she performs against some players who'll be a year older in this competition. If she handles the ball well, it'll be a big positive for her team.

Mihaela Aleksovska - North Macedonia

A scoring machine last year at the FIBA U16 Women's European Challenger in Tbilisi, Aleksovska caught fire from start to finish and racked up a massive  25.8 points per game. She also showed that she has strong attributes in other areas of her game and pulled down almost 5 rebounds per game, as well as handing out three assists.  

As North Macedonia continue their journey trying to establish themselves more and more in the women's game at all levels, she could be someone that has a central role in the senior team for the next decade and beyond.