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07 November, 2021
13 February, 2023
17/11/2021
Long Read
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Who was your nation's MVP of the first qualifying window?

MUNICH (Germany) - There was an array of outstanding performances during an exciting first window of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers.

With each nation having already been handed a collective assessment, it's now time to give some of the limelight to each team's MVP.

Group A

Belgium BEL 

Emma Meesseman - PF / 1.93m / 1993

Statistics: 21.5 PPG / 5.0 RPG / 5.0 APG / 27.5 EFF

Belgium had to lean hard on their marquee star to get them back on track after a disappointing loss in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Meesseman delivered in a big way with a huge performance against Germany as the Cats got rolling with their first win.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina BIH 

Jonquel Jones - C / 1.93m / 1999

Statistics: 37.0 PPG / 19.5 RPG / 3,5 APG / 46.0 EFF

It was a phenomenal window for the center as she catapulted her adopted nation to a pair of wins against Belgium and North Macedonia. It led to two Top Performer slots and her display against Belgium in particular of 44 points and 22 rebounds was heralded as potentially one of the greatest ever displays in the competition. There are also those who now say that, on this form, Jones is the best player on the planet right now.

Germany GER 

Marie Guelich - PF / 1.95m / 1994

Statistics: 13.0 PPG; 6.5 RPG

The forward produced a typically solid showing in the opening night win against North Macedonia and then was the one standout performer in a big loss to Belgium with an eye-catching 17 points. 

North Macedonia MKD

Andjelika Mitrashinovikj - PG / 1.78m / 1993

Statistics: 20.0 PPG; 6.0 RPG; 3.0 APG; 2.5 SPG

While North Macedonia lost heavily to Germany, they really did a better job of pushing Bosnia and Herzegovina in the second game. The work of Mitrashinovikj with her 24 points, 8 boards and 4 assists showed how competitive they can potentially be - even if they still lost.

Group B

 

Finland FIN 

Awak Kuier - C / 1.94m / 2001 

Statistics: 23.0 PPG; 12.5 RPG; 3.0 BPG; 24.5 EFF

What a fantastic talent Kuier is. One of the best of her generation globally. While the Susiladies couldn't dig out a win, fans at least got to see the rising star post a stunning double-double across the games with Lithuania and Ukraine.

France FRA

Marine Johannes - SG / 1.77m / 1995

Statistics: 12.5 PPG; 3.5 APG

This is not a window that the France players, fans or especially the coaching staff will ever want to remember after being humbled by Ukraine. Even a big win against Lithuania barely made up for their first night blues. However, at least Marine Johannes can look in the mirror and more or less say she performed.

Lithuania LTU 

Laura Juskaite - PF / 1.86m / 1997

Statistics: 11.0 PPG; 7.0 RPG, 3.0 SPG

Lithuania claimed a win against Finland and then crashed in France, which was probably predictable. The forward was arguably the most consistent performer at both ends of the floor with plenty of steals on top of points and rebounds.

Ukraine UKR 

Alina Iagupova - SG / 1.86m / 1992

Statistics: 32.0 PPG; 6.0 APG; 4.0 RPG; 4.0 SPG; 25.5 EFF

Beating France by almost 20 points was a team effort and props also go to Krystyna Filevych and Tatiana Yurkevichus. However, with a win against Finland also in the bank it is hard to look past the amazing Iagupova for averaging an eye-popping 32 points in the window - along with all those other amazing numbers. Some things never change.

Group C

 

Hungary HUN 

Bernadett Hatar - C / 2.08m / 1994

Statistics: 20.0 PPG; 7.5 RPG; 3.0 APG; 27.5 EFF

One of the in-form players in Europe at the moment, the center did the business for Hungary. Hatar offered another super-smart and highly-effective showing in the paint in the destruction of Iceland and in the hard-fought loss to Spain. 

Iceland ISL 

Sara Run Hinriksdottir - SF / 1.80m / 1996

Statistics: 16.0 PPG; 9.0 RPG; 5.0 APG

Despite two losses, Iceland star Hinriksdottir deserves praise for her continued success when wearing national team colors after she again came up big for her country. Not only a near double-double, but plenty of assists too.

Romania ROU 

Nicolett Orban - C / 1.88m / 2000

Statistics: 9.5 PPG; 13.0 RPG 

After an underwhelming 2021 qualifying campaign, Romania badly needed to get off to a good start and they managed it. Orban took them past Iceland with a massive performance and the center made the Gameday 1 Top Performers list.

 

Spain ESP

Maria Conde - SF / 1.86m / 1997

Statistics: 18.5 PPG; 11.5 RPG; 6.0 APG 29.0 EFF

The small forward has been playing some of the best basketball of her career at club level and now she can say that when wearing a Spain jersey too. Conde was outstanding across all categories, inspiring her team to wins against Hungary and Romania.

Group D

Albania ALB

Mirela Lugaj - C / 1.70m / 2000

Statistics: 7.0 PPG; 3.5 RPG

It's slim pickings as far as choosing a baller from Albania is concerned, with the team having not fired at all during two heavy losses. However, Lugaj did her best in difficult circumstances.

Poland POL 

Klaudia Gertchen - PF / 1.82m / 1996

Statistics: 13.5 PPG / 7.0 RPG

With that huge win against Albania and offensive struggle against Turkey when they were shut down defensively, it was a mixed window for Poland. Gertchen was probably the cream of the crop and especially with an impressive 16 points against Turkey.

Slovenia SLO 

Teja Oblak - G / 1.72m / 1990

Statistics: 18.0 PPG; 4.5 RPG; 4.5 APG

It was a nightmare for Slovenia in their opener as they crashed badly to Turkey, prior to beating Albania. At least Teja Oblak still found a high gear across the games and was one of the few Slovenia players to emerge with credit.

Turkey TUR 

Olcay Cakir Turgut - PG / 1.78m / 1993 

Statistics: 11.0 PPG; 4.5 APG; 3.5 RPG

While all the talk and expectation was about her teammates Pelin Bilgic and Kiah Stokes needing to pace the team, Cakir Turgut reminded everyone of what she can do with an excellent couple of games as Turkey went unbeaten.

Group E

 

Serbia SRB 

Aleksandra Crvendakic- SF / 1.87m / 1996

Statistics: 33.0 PPG; 80% FG; 7.0 RPG; 2.0 APG

After everyone asked who Serbia's new leaders might be in the wake of some recent high-profile retirements, Crvandakic put her name forward. She was sensational in the win against Croatia and held the hot hand as she shot the lights out. 

Bulgaria BUL 

Hristina Ivanova - SF / 1.86m / 1989

Statistics: 19.0 PPG; 4.0 RPG 

The forward did her best to inspire Bulgaria to victory in their only game of the first window, but despite a nice contribution of 19 points and 4 rebounds, her team came up short against Croatia. 

Croatia CRO 

Ana-Marija Begic - PF / 1.91m / 1994

Statistics: 16.5 PPG; 9.5 RPG; 3 APG; 2.0 SPG

There were vastly different fortunes for Croatia as they beat Bulgaria on the road and then crashed at home to Serbia, but EuroLeague Women forward Begic was a model of consistency with a couple of nice showings.

Group F

 

Russia RUS 

Maria Vadeeva - C / 1.93m / 1998

Statistics: 14.5 PPG; 63% FG; 7.5 RPG; 

Yes, Maria Vadeeva did Maria Vadeeva things in this first window. Her leadership, efficiency, decision-making and all-around contribution continues to catch the eye for a Russian team who motored past Montenegro and Denmark.

Montenegro MNE 

Markeisha Gatling - C / 1.96m / 1992

Statistics: 20.0 PPG; 8.5 RPG; 2.0 SPG; 24.5 EFF 

It was a lackluster showing against Russia for Montenegro and they were not much more impressive in the win against Austria. At least not outside of Gatling, who came up big just when they needed it, delivering a super shooting performance.

Austria AUT

Julia Koppl - PF / 1.90m / 1991

Statistics: 11.5 PPG; 4.5 RPG

Austria really didn't have a true outstanding performer across both of their games on their long-awaited return to this competition. But, Koppl brought it as she helped to male life difficult for Montenegro, who labored to a 10-point win. 

Denmark DEN 

Anna Seilund - G / 1.75m / 1993

Statistics: 15.0 PPG; 3.5 RPG; 4.5 APG; 19.0 EFF

 It was a close call between usual suspect Maria Jespersen and Seilund, but the latter gets the thumbs up because she was superb in Denmark's confidence-boosting success against Austria. So much so, that she was named as one of the Gameday 1 Top Performers after contributing 22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the contest.

Group G
 

 

Greece GRE 

Maria Fasoula - C / 1.92m / 1997

Statistics: 15.0 PPG; 10.5 RPG; 2.5 APG

One of the better players for Greece at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 and now with EuroLeague Women experience to her name, Fasoula continued to further enhance her reputation with a really nice effort in both games. She harvested a double-double in the wins against Great Britain and Portugal, and she is the centerpiece for this Greek team.

Portugal POR 

Laura Oliveira Ferreira - SF / 1.80m / 1995

Statistics: 10.5 PPG; 9.0 RPG; 

Portugal looked dangerous in this window as they rolled over Estonia with ease and pushed Greece hard on the road. Much of that was down to the wing work of Ferreira, who showed that she can be a big factor in the next games.

Estonia EST 

Kadri Ann Lass - C / 1.91m / 1996

Statistics: 10.5 PPG; 7.5 RPG 

In truth, it was more about the team effort for Estonia and especially against Great Britain as they picked up a rare and famous victory in the competition. Having said that, Lass was excellent and her consistency was fundamental in making this a hugely memorable week.

Great Britain GBR 

Azania Stewart - C / 1.95m / 1989

Statistics: 13.5 PPG; 75% FG; 11.5 RPG

Even if the Great Britain team endured a torrid window with losses to Greece and, most surprisingly, underdogs Estonia, the return of the experienced center was impressive. Stewart used all of her know-how to record a fine double-double across both games, shooting the ball superbly. 

Group H

 

Italy ITA 

Nicole Romeo - PG/ 1.66m / 1989

Statistics: 15.5 PPG; 2.5 APG; 2.0 SPG

The playmaker was pivotal to Italy emerging with wins against Slovakia and Luxembourg and was the difference-maker in that first game. Her 19 points, including some great scores and decisions during crunch time, were priceless.

Luxembourg LUX

Magaly Meynadier - SG/ 1.75m / 1991

Statistics: 14.0 PPG; 6.0 RPG; 2.5 APG; 2.5 SPG

Left thinking about what might have been after a close loss to Switzerland, Luxembourg lost to Italy as their lack of firepower was exposed. However, Meynadier can reflect on a strong individual window with some excellent work.

Slovakia SVK 

Ivana Jakubcova - C / 1.97m / 1994

Statistics: 12.5 PPG; 9.5 RPG; 2.0 SPG

Slovakia came close to having a perfect window but lost a tight one against Italy, prior to winning against Switzerland. The center was the pick of the crop and did a good job in the paint for her team and especially against the Swiss with a classy 16 points and 9 rebounds.

Switzerland SUI 

Evita Herminjard - SG/ 1.72m / 1998

Statistics: 29.0 PPG; 9.5 RPG; 2.5 APG; 2.5 SPG; 29.5 EGG

Absolutely brilliant from the guard, there was a real sense of deja-vu for Herminjard. She first dropped 29 points for her team as they beat Luxembourg, scoring more than half of her country's points. Then, even though the Swiss lost against Slovakia, she came up with another 29-point haul, deservedly making the Top Performers list.

Group I

Belarus BLR

Anastasiya Verameyenka - PF / 1.92m / 1987

Statistics: 20,0 PPG; 12.5 RPG; 2.0 APG; 2.0 BPG; 28.0 EFF

An absolute legend of in her homeland and many would argue of the European game, the forward shows no signs of slowing down. Veremeyenka was a colossus like always for Belarus and led them in efficiency, rebounding and blocks, also pouring in 20 points per game as they beat Czech Republic and Netherlands. 

 

Netherlands NED 

Emese Hof - C/ 1.90m / 1996

Statistics: 13.5 PPG; 12.5 RPG; 20.0 EFF

It was a positive window for Netherlands as they beat Ireland and almost surprised Belarus on the road - only just coming up short in overtime. Hof was a standout performer in both games with two double-doubles and her work on the glass was very impressive. With her ability to drop anchor in the paint at both ends, she gives the Dutch such a solid base.

Czech Republic CZE 

Veronika Vorackova SG / 1.80m / 1999

Statistics: 10.0 PPG; 9.5 RPG; 3.5 APG

Having enjoyed a super positive start to the EuroLeague Women season at ZVVZ USK Praha, Vorackova transferred that form while wearing a national team vest. She came close to a double-double window as the Czech team lost narrowly to Belarus and then picked up a first win by beating Ireland.

Ireland IRL

Claire Melia - C / 1.90m / 1999

Statistics: 13.0 PPG; 7.0 RPG; 4.0 APG

It was a difficult window in terms of results for Ireland, but the play of their center and leader gave a lot of satisfaction as Melia showed off her skills. Not only her ability to play tough, score and grab boards but also her passing vision too. She is a real tower of strength for her team.

Group J

 

Latvia LAT 

Anete Steinberga - C/ 1.90m / 1990

Statistics: 29.0 PPG; 12.0 RPG; 3.5 APG; 2.5 SPG; 33.5 EFF 

The center was awesome and the driving force behind Latvia beating both Israel and Sweden to get strongly onto the front foot in this campaign. Her display against Sweden in particular was devastating and earned her Gameday 2 Top Performer honors. It wasn't just her power inside, because the assists and steals underline her all-around influence. 

Israel ISR 

Yarden Garzon - PF / 1.83m / 2003

Statistics: 16.0 PPG ; 4.0 RPG

Just 17-years-old, Garzon gave ahead of time a glimpse into how she can be a leader for her country as she excelled with a mature performance in a narrow loss against Latvia on opening night. 

Sweden SWE 

Klara Lundquist - G / 1.73m / 1999

Statistics: 21 PPG; 10.0 APG; 5.0 RPG; 27 EFF

The one bright spot in what proved to be a disappointing and heavy loss against Latvia was playmaker Klara Lundquist showing the backcourt future of Sweden is in safe hands. Despite the defeat, she rose up to showcase her skills with a brilliant double-double of 21 points and 10 assists. 

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