Six ballers ready to light it up at #FIBAU20Europe in Skopje
SKOPJE (North Macedonia) - The FIBA U20 Women's European Championship 2022, Division B will witness the teams battling it out for promotion to the top flight, with many relying on some super marquee players.
The talent on show in Skopje, North Macedonia will be significant and below are just some of the ballers that you should look out for when the action gets going on Saturday, July 9.
You can also check out the six players to watch at the Division A tournament in Sopron.
Sude Yilmaz - Turkey
One of the best young players not only in Turkey, but arguably in Europe too, Yilmaz will now be looking to kick on and make the move from youth star to bonafide senior team contender. Some observers feel she has been unfortunate not to have already made that transition having impressed frequently whenever wearing a national team vest.
At home as a shooting guard or small forward, she is going to be a force for Turkey in Skopje and should be a go-to player. Not least because she has logged double-digits in the past year during the EuroLeague Women Regular Season and also played at the EuroCup Women Final Four with Galatasaray. This underlines her quality and with that added experience, big things are expected from her.
Yarden Garzon - Israel
Perhaps the most exciting prospect to come out of Israel in several generations, the hype around Garzon is well placed. She has been a dominant force at youth level already. Her near double-double of 19.2 points and 9.4 rebounds last year at the FIBA U20 Women's European Challengers spoke volumes and was a big factor in her moving up to the senior team last November when she started against Latvia and recorded 16 points and 4 rebounds in the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers.
With Israel co-hosts next year, Garzon will be a centerpiece of their campaign, despite her relative inexperience. She is also ready to turn heads Stateside in the NCAA after committing to Indiana. She has shown at Maccabi Ironi Ramat Gan in the Israeli League that she can compete against some elite-level players, helped by her size and versatility in the backcourt. An excellent shooter and rebounder, she could be a major star.
Zala Srot - Slovenia
Slovenia continue to produce bright young talents and one of the latest to really catch the eye is the versatile forward Srot. She excelled a few years ago at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship Division B when she helped her team take gold and promotion to the top tier. Meanwhile last year, she was the MVP of one of the FIBA U18 Women's European Challengers,
Srot produced a double-double for the week with 11.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per outing alongside an impressive 2.6 blocks, having started with 7 blocks across the opening two games. She is showing that she can be a baller at both ends of the floor as she pushes to make the senior team, while recently tasting action in Italy with Magnolia Campobasso.
Ioanna Chatzileonti - Greece
If Greece manage to have senior star Eleni Bosgana on board for the event then she will inevitably be a standout leader, but Greece will actually be able to be fuelled by twin turbos. That is because Chatzileonti is also a phenomenal talent and prospect too. She has been killing it during preparation with some typically big shows, having been on the radar for many years after being named MVP of the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship Division B four years ago.
Since then, the forward has proven herself with Kansas in the NCAA, enjoying a nice deep run at the end of the season, with their Greek baller making positive waves throughout the campaign. Now she will be out to show she is a bonafide leader not only at U20 and NCAA level, but also for the senior team in coming years.
Marija Lekovic - Montenegro
An athletic and energetic playmaker who can score as well as create, Lekovic has already demonstrated her quality and potential having stepped out last summer for the senior team at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket in Valencia. While her court time was limited, she still netted herself some buckets and gave glimpses of why she can be the leading baller in the backcourt for the next decade and beyond for her country.
An all-action player, Lekovic excelled at youth level in previous years, including a haul of 10.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship four years ago and similar numbers the year after. Meanwhile, at club level, the guard has won titles and individual accolades with Buducnost.
Martha Pietsch - Germany
With Germany entering this tournament with a well-balanced team and not necessarily led by a standout star as they have sometimes had in the past with the likes of the Sabally sisters, Emily Bessoir, Luisa Geiselsoder or Leonie Fiebiech, they will need someone to make them tick. That task will fall to point guard Pietsch who is growing in both confidence and influence for her country.
She has had a postive period of preparation and has no doubt been buoyed by signing to play NCAA basketball with Oregon State and plenty of Beavers fans will be checking out her progress in Skopje. While Germany are stacked with 'bigs' at the senior level, the potential emergence of Pietsch as a possible solution in a threadbare backcourt rotation could be a real bonus in these next years.