Chemistry and continuity a positive sign for Germany in Group A
UDINE (FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship 2016) – Germany could be a dark horse at the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship 2016 in Udine if they can successfully negotiate a tricky first phase.
While traditionally survival has been the name of the game, their ninth place finish last summer in Matosinhos when they just missed out on the Quarter-Finals showed the kind of level they want to aspire to each year.
While there is little doubt that the expected absence of the powerful Nyara Sabally will be a severe blow to hopes of making the top eight this time around, they do still have plenty of returnees from last summer. This means the Quarter-Finals are not out of the question – even if they have been pitched into what is perhaps the strongest of all the groups in Udine.
The duo of Jenny Strozyk and Jessika Schiffer in particular will be the reference players judging by their input in 2015. Schiffer is a great three-point shooter, while Strozyk will set the tempo defensively and Germany have certainly made people sit up and notice with some strikingly impressive preparation results.
Portugal’s players have enormous shoes to fill after the Class of 2015 made that memorable and historic run to the Final on home soil, which added so many new high tide marks along the way. Unfortunately, there will be only one member of the side coming back to inspire further glory, in the shape of Ana Carolina Jesus.
The team will have a different coach too, with Mariyana Kostourkova taking over the reins and she will be hoping that Alice Martins and Raquel Laneiro can live up to their promise and continue what has been a strong tradition of late at the event.
Aixa Wone is one of the returnees for Spain who didn't get their customary medal at the last edition of the event.
Spain missed out on the podium last year for only the second time at the event since 2003 which was a major blow, although they did finish a still respectable fourth. They will be hoping they can re-asset themselves as title challengers, with Aixa Wone and Ana Palma likely to be back on the roster. The trio of Laura Soria, Alba Ibanez and Maria Torreblanca might all be influential too, although Spain have had mixed warm-up results which included ab eye-opening defeat against Germany.
Meanwhile it’s a complete change for Hungary and it looks like they will have an entirely fresh roster in Udine. The burden of trying to deliver success will probably fall onto two club team-mates. Both Barbara Angyal and Fruzsina Horvath have been hugely impressive and dominant in the Hungarian youth leagues in recent years and have senior minutes to their name with Csata DSE.