27 June, 2019
07 July
Long Read
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Expert Panel: Who will win in the Quarter-Finals?

BELGRADE (Serbia) - It's one of the biggest days of any tournament and as we look forward to the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 Quarter-Finals, our experts put their necks on the line with their predictions.

- Shona Thorburn is a multi-Olympian with Canada; the veteran guard played for USO Mondeville last season, as well as commentating for livebasketball.tv. @ShonaThorburn

- Igor Curkovic is the  FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 Live Blog maestro and a FIBA meme expert. @IgorCurkovic

- Paul Nilsen is the FIBA women's basketball specialist. @Basketmedia365

Hungary v Great Britain

(Shona) Who will win? - Great Britain
Why? - GB are playing with confidence and I don;t think Hungary have been tested yet like how I think Great Britain will be able to test them.
Key matchup - Temi Fagbenle v Bernadett Hatar. Two of the best post players of the tournament so far, it is the athleticism and aggression against the height and soft touch of Hatar.

(Igor) Who will win? - Hungary
Why? - I was in Nis for the first phase, so I got to have somebody from "my" group among the Final Four. Plus, coach Norbert Szekely said it will be the game of their lives, so expect Turner, Studer, Raksanyi, Hatar to leave it all on the floor. And they will come rested, having played limited or no minutes against Turkey on Game Day 3, knowing they had won the group.
Key matchup - Temi Fagbenle v Bernadett Hatar. Hatar has surprised a lot of people in Nis with her mobility and soft shooting touch, and she's got a tough defensive task ahead, trying to stop the potential MVP of the event.

(PaulWho will win? - Great Britain
Why? - Because I can't allow myself to say anything else being a Brit. And, on the court, you could argue that Great Britain are on a magical ride that they will not want to get off and maybe their hustle play alone will give them the edge in a tight one.
Key matchup - Yvonne Turner v I don't know who. Basically, the big danger for Great Britain is not Hatar. It is the WNBA and EuroLeague Women quality of Hungary's naturalized playermaker. The combination of Stef Collins and Rachael Vanderwal need to manage her,  because she can shoot, create, penetrate and destroy you in transition. 

Spain v Russia

(Shona) Who will win? -  Russia
Why? -
Even before the tournament started I said Russia were a sleeper team and they have continued to improve in every game during this competition. They also have no big pressure and therefore nothing to lose, so why not? 
Key matchup -
Astou Ndour v Maria Vadeeva. If Vadeeva can have a big game against Ndour and Spain she will cement herself as one of the very best players in the world at the age of just 20 years old

(Igor) Who will win? -  Russia
Why? - Sometimes, not winning the group helps. Russia have now already played a game in the Belgrade Arena, they will know all about the view from center stage, and it seems that Group D and Italy fixtures worked in their favor, to get them to QF in the best possible shape. Spain could need a quarter or two to adjust to a new setting after a couple of days off. Maybe Russia run away too far before they shake off the rust.
Key matchup - Astou Ndour v Maria Vadeeva. If Vadeeva is the Terminator, then Astou needs to become Kyle Reese. Problem is, Reese had to die to help kill the Terminator...

(Paul) Who will win? -  Spain
Why? - I tipped Spain to defy history and retain their crown and become the first team in  almost 30 years to do it. I will stick with that pre-tournament prediction, although I do think that Russia are the 'tortoise' of the tournament and might just slowly continuing to come steadily through the field. But, Spain surely have too much backcourt depth for them..
Key matchup - Natalie Vieru v Laura Nicholls. As we all get our heads turned by the brilliance of Vadeeva and Ndour, what about these two hard-working and so often overlooked players? Vieru has numbers that might not look great, but she has been a difference-maker in the past couple of wins for Russia. She works hard off the ball, got some cheap buckets and is a leader. The same is the case with Nicholls of course who might not put her name up in lights, but for me, she continues to be one of the first names down on the sheet of Mondelo. Who will do the heavy lifting the best?

France v Belgium

(Shona) Who will win? -  France
Why? -
Belgium are mentally and physically fatigued after tough group play and pulling out a close one against Slovenia. France are coming off three days rest and prep.
Key matchup -
Marine Johannes and Kim Mestdagh. Both are now WNBA rookies (or Johannes soon will be), have played against each other in France and maybe it is now time for MJ to show why she is one of the best in Europe.

(Igor)  Who will win? -  Both? Neither? Too close to call? Belgium.
Why? - 
Kim Mestdagh spoke about the newfound stress of being considered the favorites of a tournament. Well, at least for a game, Belgium can relax and show us the same kind of flow we witnessed over the past two years. They are back to the underdog position against the unbeaten France.
Key matchup - Philip Mestdagh v Valerie Garnier. Every point will count. Every ATO play will count. Every defense will count. Every individual matchup will count. Chance for coaches to take a bit of the spotlight with a win here.

(Paul) Who will win? -  Belgium
Why? - 
For me, Belgium are now back where they belong - as arguably underdogs again, the position they feel more suited. The stress they were under in this tournament as favorites and especially in the last game against Slovenia both looked and felt intolerable. Now the clouds have lifted mentally after passing the test and I want to see some sunshine basketball. Also Allemand has found her touch, Meesseman was not at her best in the last game and I have rarely seen her have two bad games in a row. Although it is true that fatigue might beat them - assuming France can just switch on their 'A-Game' like a tap. 
Key matchup -
Julie Allemand v Olivia Epoupa. I get it that the likely opening match-up will be against Bria Hartley, but how will Allemand cope with a fresh, in-form and energetic Epoupa bringing her  fresh legs into the competition if she is feeling fatigued? Interesting. Maybe much will rest on Vanloo and Carpreaux to lighten the load on Allemand. 

Serbia v Sweden

(Shona) Who will win? -  Serbia
Why? -
There were big question marks over Serbia before we started, but they have proved they can beat some of the best by finishing first in the 'Group of Death'. With home court advantage, they should come out on top.
Key matchup -
Frida Eldebrink v Ana Dabovic. They are both scorers and both capable of knocking down game winners, but have not really found consistency or hit their highest gear yet. Maybe this will be the time.

(Igor)  Who will win? -  Serbia
Why? -
Not putting my money or my mouth against the team which escaped the Group of Death on a 3-0 record. Especially not with home crowd behind them.
Key matchup -  
Elin Eldebrink v Nevena Jovanovic. Elin struggled protecting the ball, throwing it away four times per game so far. This is where Nevena will be ready and waiting, with 2.0 steals per game, leading Serbia in that department. In fact, it feels like Jovanovic has been the unsung hero with all the Brooks, Dabovic, Petrovic heroics...

(Paul) Who will win? -  Serbia
- I tipped them in 2015 when they won it and got laughed at by some. I tipped them to get a medal at the Olympics and got laughed at even more - and they did. I have since tipped them to take bronze here on home soil despite a difficult preparation. I have not yet got laughed at, so while a relative upset might happen, I think I have to stick to my prediction. They will be too aggressive for Sweden and have too many weapons. But the big question is after a lifetime of dreaming about the women's team playing in this incredible Arena like the men, will they handle the pressure and expectation and thrive on it - or will they crack? 
Key matchup -
Amanda Zahui and Jelena Brooks. I was wondering if Milic would guard Zahui but maybe more likely Halvarsson. So we might get two favorites from Sopron up against each other (even if they didn't play together last year with Brooks on maternity leave). They can both use their extended shooting range to such good effect.