04 - 12
August 2018
12 Billie Massey (BEL), 9 Marie Vervaet (BEL), SRB vs BEL
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The 5 things you need to know about #FIBAU18Europe in Udine

UDINE (FIBA U18 Women's European Championship) – There will be much to enjoy and digest at the FIBA U18 Women's Championship 2018 in Udine and so we’ve picked out some of the things you need to be looking out for.

Expect the unexpected

This is the most unpredictable European youth event with 7 different nations lifting silverware at the last 11 editions of the competition. Unlike the U20 for example, where Spain have been absolutely dominant, no reigning champion has successfully defended its title for 14 years! Russia were the last team to accomplish that feat when they won it in 2002 and then 2004 (when it was every two years). Since it has gone to an annual competition, no nation has ever finished on the top step of the podium two years in a row. Something for holders and one for this year's favorites Belgium to think about. They are going to have to make history!

There are precious U19 World Cup tickets on offer

It won't just be the podium and medals in the sights of those teams descending on Udine, but also the lure of a place at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2019. Any youth tournament with that extra incentive always feels like it possesses an extra edge and it will make the tournament stretch even more dramatic and exciting. It looks like 5 tickets to next year's World Cup will be available. Russia are the current U19 champions after that famous win last year against USA - ironically, in Udine!

 The reigning MVP is back and the MVP of Division B too

Billie Massey was crowned MVP of the 2017 edition in Sopron as the powerful frontcourt star led Belgium to a somewhat surprise success. She took the individual honors despite playing against many competitors a year older. She is joined by Nyara Sabally (pictured) of Germany, who starred in Dublin last summer to catapult her country back into the top flight with some huge numbers. Her productivity and influence was also rewarded with the MVP accolade. That could be one of the matchups of the tournament if both teams meet each other.

A sense of déjà-vu

Almost half of the players who step out at the event will get a rather familiar feeling in Udine. That is because two years ago, many of them played against each other on Italian soil at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship. Spain won the title and Germany made their first ever Final – so with many returnees for the later, maybe it will give them inspiration to make another deep run and challenge for a medal. Watch out for the imposing Jelena Mitrovic of Serbia too, who was the leading scorer at that event with almost 20 points per game and also led the way on the boards.

Avoiding the Division B trap door

As ever, the scramble to avoid the drop to Division B will be intense and nerve-wracking. Three teams will suffer the agony of relegation, although no matter how bad anyone starts, the Round of 16 will give a chance to collect the one precious victory needed to guarantee survival. All eyes will be on Sweden, who at various levels in recent years, have been the specialists in taking the chance to bounce back from a disappointing start to stay in the top tier with a Round of 16 success. Now known to any nation in a similar position as 'Doing a Sweden.' The Round of 16 is also one of the most thrilling days of any tournament as it separates the competition in half between those fighting for their Division A lives and those into the Quarter-Finals.