Six standout stars ready to shine at #FIBAU20Europe in Sopron
SOPRON (Hungary) - Anticipation is growing ahead of the first FIBA U20 Women's European Championship since 2019, with a number of exciting rising stars ready to hit the floor in Hungary.
The event in Sopron will be keenly contested as youth basketball comes back under the spotlight at the home venue of the current EuroLeague Women champions.
Below are just some of the headline acts that you should follow when the action tips off on Friday, July 8.
You can also take a look at some of the ballers to follow at the FIBA U20 Women's European Championship, Division B in Skopje.
Pauline Astier - France
At youth level for her country, Astier has played skilfully and was top scorer last year for her nation with 15 points per game at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup. She will be looking to find that high-scoring gear again and will be high up on her opponents' scouting reports as someone to lock down.
An assured and influential guard, Astier arrives on Hungarian soil a EuroCup Women winner and French League Champion after signing off what has been a remarkable season for legendary French club Bourges Basket. With terrific shot selection and consistently good finishing, she was a regular off the bench in both competitions and is expected to begin pushing for a spot in the French senior team.
Reka Dombai - Hungary
A big hope for the future of Hungarian basketball, Dombai has been an exceptional European talent for several years and right in the center of that radar because of her skills. She has won so many different accolades ad was instrumental in propelling Hungary to a historic bronze last year at U19. And, to underline how long she has been clutch and around on the scene, that was her second edition of the competition, having also played in the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup too.
Dombai also got Hungary onto the podium at the FIBA U18 Women's European Championship in 2019. A natural scorer and strong both on and off the ball, she has posted two impressive first campaigns for Gyor in EuroCup Women and in the Hungarian League. It's no surprise she also stepped out with the senior Hungary team in the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers.
Matilde Villa - Italy
There is still a real buzz around Villa and she is looking like a lock to be a senior regular during these next years after really coming alive in a big way in the past couple of seasons. She was always seen as a major rising star in her homeland, perhaps standing out more because of the presence of her twin sister alongside her. Matilde has caught the eye hugely with her work and the guard was part of the Italy team crowned champions at the FIBA U16 Women's European Championship four years ago.
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Villa put herself into the spotlight last November when she appeared briefly in the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers against Luxembourg to make her senior competitive debut on the court. Combine that with some outstanding play in the Italian League with Costa Mastnaga and you can see why she has just been announced as a new player for powerhouse Reyer Venezia recently.
Vanesa Jasa - Latvia
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Latvia's latest young player to make a mark, Jasa is certainly on a nice upwards trajectory for club and country right now, having gained much experience in the last couple of years despite the pandemic. That's because she has been playing at the highest level in EuroLeague Women at TTT Riga and making some very useful contributions. So much so that she scored 14 points not just once, but twice against former EuroLeague Women juggernauts UMMC Ekaterinburg last season.
Such displays have seen her make rapid progression and she is now seeking to take her smarts and unassuming, but highly precious game to the senior national team. At youth level she has always been a leader as you would expect when she has been on court, although has not taken part in as many competitions as many of her peers. It looks like an opportunity to make up for this in Sopron!
Mama Dembele - Spain
.@BaloncestoESP's 🇪🇸 Mama Dembele Traore dials in from DEEP to end the opening quarter 🔥! #FIBAU19— FIBA (@FIBA) July 21, 2019
📺 Watch live: https://t.co/2lGjjM8LgP
📝 Follow the live blog: https://t.co/iNtdrglODk pic.twitter.com/WzuKfcHKAC
Incredibly athletic, quick, explosive and a real handful for defenders, Dembele brings something different to many of the quality glut of Spanish guards seen in past generations. She has quality and has shown it for Spain on many different stages. including the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup where she appeared not only last year in Debrecen, but also three years ago as the youngest member of the team in Bangkok.
📹 Os presentamos a Mama Dembele, de la generación del 2002.— Baloncesto España (@BaloncestoESP) June 23, 2020
Una base con un físico poderoso ✅
Un gran POTENCIAL de FUTURO 🧐
Generación de estrellas 🤩 | @santalucia_seg | #SomosEquipo pic.twitter.com/kRTmBqJjGK
Also taking part in the prestigious Basketball Without Borders program, she has been playing her ball Stateside with the University of Missouri Tigers most recently. She has been slowly but surely moving up through the gears to show the NCAA her game and especially her quick hands on defense. And, this is where she is likely to be a real force for Spain in Sopron, with the Federation very happy to have a young player with such good senior potential to choose from moving forward.
Magdalena Szymkiewicz - Poland
Likely to be the massively go-to player for Poland when the action gets underway in Sopron, how Szymkiewicz deals with a lot of defensive attention will be important. The small forward has not only been a big influence for her country in previous tournaments, but will arrive in-form, for example having dropped 24 points on Greece in a preparation contest.
Szymkiewicz arrives at this tournament having made strides last summer when she was a power in the FIBA U20 Women's European Challengers. She has played in EuroLeague Women with VBW Arka Gdynia and also played a massive 25 minutes per game in the Polish League for her club too. A real handful on the wing with some good handles, shooting range and length too, she is a very interesting player. And, one that Poland may need to utilize quickly at senior level to get themselves back to the FIBA Women's EuroBasket.