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September 2018
18 Alexia Chartereau (FRA)
20/09/2018
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Power Rankings: Our final choice before the curtain is raised

TENERIFE (FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018) - The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 is now upon us and here is our last set of Power Rankings.

RANK

NATION

MOVE

 

1

(USA) There may be considerable roster churn compared to previous tournaments and some new faces - along with head coach Dawn Staley at her first major competition. But when you have veteran greats like Diana Taurasi, and Sue Bird alongside the reigning WNBA MVP in Breanna Stewart - plus a stack load of other standout names, any fears over the newcomers stumbling, simply fades away. Still the runaway favorites.

2

(ESP) Perfect in their preparation and while they had a few near scrapes, the intensity was present and they look like being energized by home support and expectation. Still some concerns about whether they have enough under the hoop and Alba Torrens has been relatively quiet - but the Women's EuroBasket MVP knows when the most important time is to make a noise. They look well placed for a third global Final in a row.

 

(FRA) We've spoken about the barren run of more than 60 years without a podium finish, but France look well equipped to get back onto it. They have to aim high, having looked well-oiled in preparation and having pipped fellow challengers Canada. Sandrine Gruda, Endy Miyem, Alexia Chartereau and Helena Ciak are a nice line-up in the paint, Marine Johannes is doing typically entertaining and effective Marine Johannes things, Valeriane Ayayi is a big danger and if Olivia Epoupa can show composure as playmaker, they might be in business.

 

(CAN) Impressive preparation points to the expectation that they should be gunning for the Semi-Finals at least. They are the Women's AmeriCup winners after all, while they also have a lot of players who are showing signs of being able to produce. Coach Thomaidis has so many options in so many positions, although perhaps the irony is that they arguably don't have an obvious clutch player who is consistently proven at the highest level. The injury to Kayla Alexander might hurt them a little, but it's a mainly positive mood right now. 

 

(AUS) Australia have been rocked by a succession of injuries and look worryingly thin at the playmaker position. They still have one of the biggest stars around in Liz Cambage under the hoop and some very exciting emerging players to call upon like Alanna Smith and Ezi Magbegor, who will be here for the next decade. Do they have enough for the podium? Possibly. But we don't share the gushing confidence of the legendary Lauren Jackson, who has tipped them for a medal and specifically, gold!

(BEL) Without Ann Wauters for much of the preparation and having counted their lucky stars that Emma Meesseman was not ruled out longer after her injury, Belgium are ready to go. They have won some big friendly games even without their big-hitters which is a great sign and the big question is probably whether Wauters plays and is durable enough to sustain minutes, while Kim Mestdagh needs to shoot the ball well from distance.  At least in Meesseman they have an undoubted world class talent. The supporting cast is handy too.

(JPN)  - The loss of WNBA centerpiece Ramu Tokashiki means problems down low for Japan, whose frontcourt rotation just got much shorter. However,  they have showed consistently why they are Asian champions with some nice performances in preparation - including pushing Spain very close and so earn a slight rise in the rankings. After losing every game in 2014, they will be disappointed if they miss the Quarter-Finals at this event. They are loaded with energy, defense, shooters and skill. Manami Fujioka could now be their main source of inspiration.

(CHN) Only a very slight drop for China, who overall, have not had a winning record across all of their preparation games - although they have played more than anybody else, so must have the maximum levels of chemistry available. They also beat Japan for the first time in several years - even if their opponents had some key absences. Sun Mengran, Yueru Li and lLi Meng could all be vital in trying to help China restore some pride after a tumble from prominence in recent years. Their game with Latvia is going to be a seriously crunch one.

(TUR) They have had some mixed performances and results in preparation, but have shown predictions of their demise may be premature. Perhaps also because fate has arguably been kind to them and on paper at least, they look to be in a  favorable Group. On that basis they have moved up our rankings again. Maybe not as high as some might like, but once the ball is thrown up in this tournament, only then will we be able to tell how they will cope without some great veterans who they have always relied on at previous global events.

10

(LAT) - It's been an up and down journey in preparation  with some wildly differing results and that's probably right for an unpredictable team who can be anything on the day in games. That's not likely to change and even play-caller Martin Zibarts might not truly know which face his team will show. However, they arrive in Tenerife on a high after demolishing Greece and the inclusion of Syracuse forward Digna Strautmane is exciting - especially alongside another NCAA standout in Kitija Laksa, who will bring the noise from downtown.

11

(KOR) Hopefully this time around they won't have all their eggs in the basket of Park Jisu, with the WNBA center incredibly only 15-years-old when she led the team back in 2014. Still a teenager, she will be the main torch holder for her country's hopes, but good things might happen if there are productive inputs from the likes of Danbi Kim and Yung Hui Lim. They have to show mental strength and belief, because it's been a long time since they made a deep run in a major tournament.

12

 

 (ARG) There has been much food for thought for head coach Cristian Santander in the past few weeks after several losses. It has been the margin of defeats which has been most worrying, with the team's lack of scoring power and frontcourt depth exposed. They must now overcome this and rely heavily on their defense to stay in games. Everyone knows about Meli Gretter but can some other players post a breakthrough? People like Victoria Llorente, who has been outstanding at youth events in recent years.

13

(NGR) Even if it might just be our gut feeling rather than confidence from anything that has happened in preparation, there is an energy about this Nigeria team. The excitement that they can post a breakthrough for African women's basketball after being pitched in a Group that holds little fears for them. The Continental champions have WNBA and EuroLeague Women minutes on the resume of Adaora Elonu, as well as quality in Evelyn Aktahor and Ezinne Kalu. Will they repay our faith in pushing them up the rankings?

14

(GRE) Let's be truthful, their preparation results have been woeful as they signed off with a crushing defeat against Latvia to emphasize this further. But for a team packed full of veterans, it's all about the business end of this campaign when the real action starts. That is when they will be out to shine and prove the doubters wrong as usual - so we have bumped them up a spot. Perhaps their success will hinge on whether their young guns can fire as well - not least the exciting shooting guard, Eleanna Christinaki.

15

(PUR) The debutantes are ready to proudly step out at their first ever #FIBAWWC, boosted by that Women's CentroBasket title last month. However, the step up to this level is huge and and they're arguably in the worst possible Group (with two continental Champions in Spain and Japan). Being competitive is probably the true aim and winning a game would be amazing. But outside of leading offensive light Jennifer O'Neill, they look to be lacking in options. They do have the experienced Yolanda Jones to call upon.

16

(SEN) There has been nothing during preparation to suggest Senegal will be anything other than ranked bottom at this tournament. With limited preparation and not much to cheer, they only used 8 players in their friendly against France which was telling. That showed their lack of depth and to cause a major upset, Women's AfroBasket MVP Astou Traore will have to be sensational once again.

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author(s).

The previous Power Rankings can be viewed HERE.

FIBA