10 November, 2019
08 February, 2021
 FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers Power Rankings, Volume 2
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FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers Power Rankings, Volume 2

MUNICH (Germany) - The first FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers window is complete and after several twists and turns, here are our updated Power Rankings, with some big movers in both directions.








Albania - Totally out of their depth. A cut and paste from Volume 1 and most likely will be repeated again in 12 months. It did get ugly quickly against Lithuania and Serbia - as many predicted.



North Macedonia - Way off the pace as anticipated, it's going to be a long campaign. Losses of 65 to Germany and Almost 60 to Latvia epitomized the struggle, especially offensively. Without a naturalized player in this window, the gulf in class was clear.



Finland - While a big loss to Belgium was wholly to be expected, the defeat in Portugal was very disappointing – mainly because of the margin of 23 points. If you can't score 60 points, you will always be under pressure and struggling to win games and that was after shooting a staggeringly low 30 percent from the field across both games, as well as turning the ball over too much. Underwhelming.





Denmark - They may have lost both their games, but the newcomers gave Romania and even Italy some real problems. Denmark underlined how competitive they are and also how much potential they have (with youngsters in the pipeline) via the 15-point loss in Romania and only a 10-point defeat to Italy at home. Maria Jespersen led the way as we had predicted, while Emilie Hesseldal provided the cameo. Something positive to work on for November 2020.




Iceland - It's a fall of three places after a big loss in Greece which was not a surprise, but also a 15-point home reverse at the hands of Bulgaria. That was a disappointment and one of the main problems was 21.5 turnovers per game, the joint second worst of the opening window. The usually super Helena Sverrisdottir couldn't get much to drop in the crunch game with Bulgaria and nobody else stepped up to be the difference maker. 




Estonia -It was a mixed bag for Estonia in the sense that while they emerged from the window winless, they fought hard in Switzerland and then had to face a Russia side that had been stung by a loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina. They just need their younger players to contribute more, since it was the soon to be 38-year-old veteran star Merike Anderson who was the most influential yet again.




Israel - If you can't qualify with the amazing Alysha Clark in the past, what chance without her? Very little is the harsh fact, as Israel crashed by 37 points at home to Sweden. They were 1-of-12 from long-range and completely dominated on the glass. Scoring is going to be a problem and they just have to hope that with they can be more competitive when they face Montenegro.




Bulgaria - Congratulations are due, since after going 0-6 in the last Qualifiers for the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019, this time Bulgaria got a win on the board at the first attempt. Beating Iceland visibly instilled confidence and they followed it up by giving Slovenia a big scare in Sofia. Hristina Ivanova and Dimana Georgieva killed it and were the twin turbos behind what was probably the most enjoyable memory for their nation in a long, long time.





Switzerland - Also grabbing a first victory after a winless campaign last time, the celebrations for Switzerland were long overdue as they eventually held off Estonia. Losing by almost 20 points in Bosnia and Herzegovina was perhaps something that took the shine away from their success, but overall, they should be happy with their efforts. Incidentally, back in 2012 during attempted qualifying for 2013 Final Round, the Swiss did a double over Estonia and that will be the aim again.




Poland - Without Jo Leedham-Warner, it's true that Great Britain were vulnerable (as was subsequently proven when they crashed to Belarus) yet Poland could not capitalize and that will be frustrating for new Coach Maros Kovacik. They didn't start well and were always on the back foot in the 75-63 loss, which was their only game. Marissa Lee Kastanek was a bright spot and next year they will open up with a derby against Belarus and it is now a must-win game.




Portugal - Of all the teams who were 0-6 in the last Qualifiers, maybe the relief for Portugal will have been the most intense after they managed to get a precious W on the board by easily riding past Finland, with Sofia Silva and Laura Oliveria Ferreira standing out. Perhaps more importantly, they also competed intensely against Ukraine in Kharkiv before falling 72-60. Certainly positives to build on!




Montenegro - It was just the one game for Montenegro and they went down by 12 on the road in Sweden. The negatives are that they have lost Glory Johnson in the naturalized slot who was such a powerhouse at both ends of the floor and the margin of the loss disguised just how dominant Sweden actually were. The positive is that their most difficult fixture on paper is now out of the way.





Slovakia - Hoping to jump all over a Hungary team reeling from a first day loss, Slovakia felt the wrath of a team who had injured pride and crashed heavily in the derby. It was a no-show from the hosts after the break and they were beaten by 14 points and that margin gives them a mountain to climb even at just 0-1. Especially since Netherlands got off the mark and look dangerous. Only Sabine Oroszova performed well and deserves credit.




Romania - It was a very positive window for Romania going 1-1, but it was also bitter-sweet since they were one missed basket away from a miraculous 2-0! Had the Czech Republic not sunk a buzzer-beater, Romania would have followed up their opening day triumph against Denmark with a stunning road win. Recently appointed head coach Ayhan Avci will be pleased with his team's efforts, led by the naturalized Ashley Walker, who is top of their efficiency



Great Britain - After continuing the momentum from their historic run to the Semi-Finals in Belgrade by winning in Poland with a nice team showing led by Eilidh Simpson, it was a home court catastrophe against Belarus. So much so, you could argue Great Britain have blown their prospects of making Final Round in just one window. Assuming Poland don't beat Belarus, it means Chema Buceta and his team must now win in Minsk and win huge if they want to top the group. Their basket difference took a hammering as they were outclassed and outplayed in Manchester. It was a tough way to end an otherwise amazing calendar year.




Greece - A modest rise in our rankings for Greece who beat Iceland as you would expect, but had to settle for a 1-1 record having lost to Slovenia. To their credit, they had the Slovenian side under some real pressure and seriously sweating, but ultimately, a loss is a loss. Jacki Gemelos was there to make sure all the veteran experience from the past was not lost completely. Plus, Pinelopi Pavlopoulou was exceptional.



Latvia - Even if they beat North Macedonia in a big way, it's a substantial fall for Latvia because they bombed at home by 18 points to Croatia in their opener. That was a painful start for new head coach Martins Gulbis and with Germany showing their intent and capabilities in this Group, it looks complicated. Even with Elina Dikaioulaku and Kristine Vitola providing class in the backcourt and frontcourt, Latvia need to step it up next November and they will start with a must-win contest in Germany which looks seriously huge for them and could be a deal-maker or breaker.





Lithuania - If you remove all the attention that was thrust on wonderkid Juste Jocyte, the cold hard facts are that this was a poor window for Lithuania. The debut of the teenage ace was headline news, but if you take care and attention to the sub-plot, the massive win against Albania will be discounted in the final shake-up in this group. It will all be about the results against Serbia and Turkey. So, the fact that they were swamped by Turkey 74-51 in their only truly meaningful game, means this window was a big miss. That margin of defeat could be their eventual downfall.




Germany - It was a very encouraging window for Germany, although it could have been amazing had they not lost that lead in Croatia before eventually being edged out. Getting a winning start against North Macedonia was straightforward, and while they went down 93-86 in Croatia, they will surely be confident of continuing to improve and getting revenge in the home match-up. Plus, they will also maybe think about being able to push Latvia hard in both games. Satou Sabally was brilliant and with Marie Guelich, plus players in the pipeline, this team could be going places in coming years.




Netherlands - Well, what a window it was for Netherlands. One game, feet up and job done! They produced what was arguably the biggest upset of the window by not only beating Hungary (who finished in the Top 8 at Final Round this past summer), but they did it convincingly with a 66-56 success. Emese Hof was excellent and gave them a real presence in the paint, while respect to Karin Kuijt for her 12 points and 10 assists. A great platform to build on for the Dutch and opportunity knocks loudly!



Hungary - A disaster was averted by Hungary who spilled the milk in a big way with that opener in the Netherlands when they failed to turn up completely. However, with a tricky derby against Slovakia to play, you have to give props that they responded and wiped up the mess by taking a big and critical victory. You do wonder if that Netherlands loss could haunt them when these Qualifiers are in the books, but seriously, it could have been even worse.




Ukraine - They kind of picked up where they left off at Final Round this past summer, with a very poor performance. They were always underdogs versus Belgium, but were nowhere near getting a win. Certainly not like in years gone by when they have sometimes pushed Spain close in the Qualifiers. They at least recovered with a win at home to Portugal. As ever, some things are constant - such as Alina Iagupova leading all their main statistical categories!



Turkey - Despite being without their leader Isil Alben, Turkey managed to come out of this demanding window 1-1 and they deserve credit for that. Okay, they did not have two wins, but Serbia away and Lithuania at home was a big challenge. Getting Quanitra Hollingsworth back on the floor was critical and they almost got a win on Serbian soil and they recovered from defeat with a big and impressive win against Lithuania. Coach Yildizoglu has admitted they are a team in transition, so on balance, a successful window . The fans also gave the legendary Birsel Vardarli Demirmen an amazing reception as the retired star was subject of a special presentation. 



Italy - They may be 1-1, which was disappointing against expectations, but also the two performances from the Italians were hugely underwhelming. So, they are one of the biggest fallers in our rankings. They were outplayed by Czech Republic at home and even against newcomers Denmark on the road, they looked nervous and not convincing, before a late surge got them past their opponents. An underwhelming start for Coach Capobianco in his second spell. They will have to sit and stew about this for 12 months - and figure out their lack of size and rebounding presence.



Czech Republic- It's a nice rise up our rankings for the Czechs who looked a totally different proposition with both Julia Reisingerova and Kia Vaughn back from injury having missed Final Round. Those 'Twin Towers' were pivotal in a super and well deserved road win in Italy which was an excellent start. However, they almost blew all of that great work by  slipping up at home to Romania, as Katerina Elhotova saved the day with that buzzer beater. To be 2-0 at this stage gives them a great advantage and opportunity to advance.





Bosnia and Herzegovina - Two games and two wins, including that dramatic opener on Russian soil when the naturalized WNBA star Jonquel Jones had one of the best debuts in history and took the Top Performer Award for Game Day 1. They then followed it up with success at home to  Switzerland as Marica Gajic took her turn to show out. They look the real deal with this duo, although it remains fragile because if one gets into foul trouble or is absent and unavailable, they will be vulnerable as a team. Nevertheless, a dream start to their campaign and bid to make history by qualifying for the first time.




Belarus - We were so wrong. They were absolutely brilliant against Great Britain as one of the nations who only stepped out once in this window. They not only won, but did so emphatically. In fact it was arguably the best basketball display of the whole window. Any fears about he death of the Belarus NT were greatly exaggerated. Anastasiya Verameyenka showed she is continuing and was as brilliant as ever, making the Top Performers with a super display. Maryia Papova was also excellent too. You could even argue that after just 40 minutes of basketball, Belarus have one foot in Final Round with such a huge victory under their belts!




Croatia - Eyebrows were raised when we had Croatia in our Top 10 before a ball was thrown up, but Stipe Bralic masterminded a pair of victories to  back our prediction.  They blew out Latvia in Riga, prior to that epic against Germany when they had to come from behind. You also have to give credit they were without their two of their biggest hitters in Marija Rezan and Antonija Sandric. However, with Ivana Dojkic on fire and great support from Ana-Marija Begic and Iva Slonsjak, Croatia can be proud of the great job they have done so far - and probably wish they didn't have to wait 12 months until the next window.




Russia - While losing at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina might have appeared a massive shock and also a hammer blow, think again. That is why only a modest fall for Russia. If they win at Bosnia and Herzegovina, which they are more than capable of doing, they should still win this group. Jonequel Jones and Marcia Gajic will be a handful, but Russia were missing Raisa Musina and had a chance to win the game with the last possession. They showed their teeth again by strolling past Estonia.



Sweden - It's so far, so good for new playcaller Marco Crespi. They hammered Israel on the road and beat Montenegro comfortably, to take early control of the group. Elin Eldebrink, who said she would go through fire for her team recently, has been particularly impressed. Swedish basketball and the fans also paid tribute to the retiring Anna Barthold, who has been an exemplary and magnificent warrior for her country.



Serbia - You can probably make a case for arguing Serbia didn't deserve much of a raise in our rankings after laboring against Turkey before scraping a win and then rolling over Albania, ranked last in the Power Rankings. However, look at it this way - they didn't have several players, including Sonja Petrovic and Dragana Stankovic, but are 2-0. Plus, Aleksandra Crvendakic reminded us all of her capabilities with that excellent line in their opener.



Slovenia - After we had Slovenia a high second place, they gave us a few wobbles and our confidence looked briefly misplaced. But, despite struggling at times against Greece at home and Bulgaria on the road, it's the 2-0 start we expected. Teja Oblak has led the way impressively, but Tina Jakovina has also been key, stepping it up with two good showings.



Belgium- Two huge wins and most impressively, taking Ukraine apart. Emma Meesseman remains unstoppable; Ann Wauters is now also back after her sabbatical from the club game with Bellona Agu in Turkey; and they are set to host one of the four FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in February. It's a good time to be a fan of the Cats, or indeed a player!

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

Paul Nilsen

Paul Nilsen

The FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers Power Rankings are put together by our panel, led by FIBA's women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen. He eats, sleeps and breathes female hoops and is incredibly passionate about the promotion of the women's game at all levels. Paul uses an extensive network of players, coaches, clubs and Federations to shape his work and opinions.