23 - 31
July 2016
12 Valeria Trucco (ITA)
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Italy rely on Zaragoza global stars in Group B

SOPRON (FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship 2016) – Italy will welcome a new generation of stars to the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship 2016 in Sopron and ones who have already recorded summer success.

Italy will be powered by an array of standout players that carried their nation to an historic first-ever Final appearance at the FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship in Zaragoza, having also taken bronze last year at the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship 2015.

They will have one of the best frontcourts in Sopron, with Valeria Trucco who was excellent in Spain and Lorela Cubaj who can draw upon EuroCup Women experience last season with Umana Reyer Venezia.

With the very capable Elisa Pinzan pulling the strings, Italy will have a young side, but a talented one who have proven their quality on the world stage. The only question mark remains whether they can put enough points on the board and so 'X-factor' players like Martina Fassina will need to step it up.

Russia would have been favourites to improve on last year's bronze had the phenomenal Maria Vadeeva been on board, but the fact she won't play at the tournament is mitigated by the inclusion of another of Europe’s best young players in Raisa Musina. The Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje center has just made the All-Star Five at the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship and is a big candidate for another personal accolade if Russia reach the latter stages.

Kamilla Ogun made the All-Star Five at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship 2015 and so did Italian group B rival, Lorela Cubaj

Her Sparta&K team-mate Kamilla Ogun also knows what it's like to reach an All-Star Five in Matosinhos,having done so at the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship and she has real class on the wings. Diana Kazhlaeva is growing in stature in the backcourt too and is likely to direct traffic on the floor, while Anastasiia Komarova is also a player to put on the Sopron watch-list.

Turkey were promoted from Division B last year and while many of those players have moved on, they will have two big players in Meltem Yilidizhan and Inci Guclu if the pair recover from having only just helped their country to dodge relegation at the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship in Matosinhos. Yildizhan is a real scorer, while nobody will be taller in the tournament than Guclu and is a handful to defend. The team may also have another '99-born rising star in Ilyada Guner, while Eda Sahin can be a danger in the backcourt, with all those players rather notably from Istanbul powerhouse, Galatasaray.

Israel will inevitably be the group underdogs, but having survived last year in Celje, they have experience of beating the drop to Division B and will be out to cause an upset. Especially since leading scorer Eden Rotberg is suiting up again which is a boost, while the naturalised Allyson Rosenblum could prove a real diamond if she links up with the team. Hadar Hadad is also an all-action wing player who could possibly be a difference maker.