Six players ready to shine at #FIBAU18Europe in Heraklion
HERAKLION (Greece) - The FIBA U18 Women's European Championship 2022 in Heraklion is guaranteed to be an important showcase for an array of future senior stars.
The talent levels are going to be soaring in the Greek city when the action gets underway on Saturday, August 6 and these are just some of the ballers that you should put on your watchlist.
Elena Buenavida Estevez - Spain
The guard lands in Greece having already won a gold medal this summer as part of the Spain team that conquered the recent FIBA U20 Women's European Championship in Sopron. Now ready to play at her own age group, she'll be a bigger influence for one of the tournament favorites and you can't rule out her enjoying another title success. She has also stood on top of the podium in 3x3 when she won the FIBA U17 Europe Cup last year in Lisbon.
Buenavida Estevez has turned heads for some time, and as the youngest baller on Spain's roster at the 2021 FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup, she led her team in efficiency and was in the top two for scoring and rebounding. One of the best performers at the Basketball Without Borders Europe camp this summer, she showcased her vast skillset and will now switch from playing her club basketball with Segle XXI in Barcelona to head to the USA to study and play with UCLA.
Anaelle Dutat - France
The MVP of one of the FIBA U18 Women's Challengers last summer, Dutat gave an indication of what she can bring with a typically all-action display. Strong and efficient in her game, she had 9 points and almost 7 boards per game, with the forward shooting the lights out and firing 65 percent from the floor during the tournament.
She has continued her momentum this year, recently being named in the All-Star Five at the Laure Ecard preparation tournament, so will arrive in Greece in a rich vein of form. Domestically, she has continued her basketball development at Mondeville and on this current trajectory, many good things lie in her path.
Raina Tomasicka - Latvia
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The 2005-born standout is a scoring machine and has been ever since she started playing the sport. Viewed as one of the best Latvian talents in many generations, Tomasicka gives any team a scoring punch and will be the marquee player for her nation in Heraklion. Even if she receives significant defensive attention, she knows how to score inside and out. She has also matured rapidly since advancing to the senior TTT Riga team at club level and appearing in three EuroLeague Women games last season.
Her ability to put points on the scoreboard in a hurry was also recently demonstrated at the Basketball Without Borders Europe camp when she won the women's three-point shooting competition. A senior spot with Latvia will surely be on the agenda soon, but for now, watch out for her dominating games and showing that super shooting ability.
Dominika Paurova - Czech Republic
With unlimited energy and plenty of skills in her armory, Paurova is another baller who played at the FIBA U20 Women's European Championship in Sopron and she came away with the silver medal, having come close to helping her team win the title for the first time in two decades. Despite her younger age, she finIshed in the top-two spots for points, rebounds and assists for her team, also leading in efficiency.
Her quickness, smarts, defense and finishing at the rim are all big upsides and she will be the driving force behind the Czech Republic's challenge. She played at last year's U20 Challengers and also gained experience at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup last summer. Throw in her impressive showing at the Basketball Without Borders Europe 2022 camp and you see why she is so integral to her team.
Matilde Villa - Italy
The fact the dynamic guard has already played for the senior Italian team in the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers tells you everything you need to know about her ability and potential. At youth level, she previously finished as the second-top scorer and top of the assists chart for her nation at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship - highlighting her scoring and creative skills.
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Naturally, with such great performances and especially her 36-point tally in an Italian league game, Villa was always going to get snapped up by a leading club. Sure enough, earlier this summer Italian giants Reyer Venezia came knocking. and this is great news for fans around Europe as we will be able to watch her develop whilst playing in the EuroCup Women this coming 2022-23 season.
Juste Jocyte - Lithuania
A phenomenal rising star who has broken records by playing for the Lithuania senior national team way ahead of time at just 13 years old, followed by appearing in EuroLeague Women after making the move to join Tony Parker's LDLC ASVEL Feminin, it's been a whirlwind first few years of her career. Jocyte landed on the radar at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship three years ago when her amazing displays took her team to the Final and a FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup spot , albeit that competition was subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic.
Since then, it's been a string of attention and a growing army of admirers for the free-scoring and super smart baller. She recently attained success at U23 level in 3x3 and was terrific for Lithuania in a preparation tournament for Heraklion with some great numbers against France. She will be a headline act on the Greek island.