Report Card: What grade did each nation get for the November window?
MUNICH (Germany) - With the first window of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers in the books, it's time to check out at how each nation performed against expectation in their recent fixtures.
The respective displays and results of each country have been reviewed, with any mitigating circumstances taken into account and that has led to the following grades.
Current Record: 0-2 (4th in Group C)
First Window: v Lithuania (L) 99-62; v Belgium (L) 28-136
It was tough for Azerbaijan to take this major step at a higher level. The naturalized Brianna Fraser helped to stem the tide a little and Alexandra Mollenhauer impressed. But they were left to look out of their depth mainly because they were packed with younger players - although these 16 and 17 year-old ballers did gain valuable experience.
Current Record: 0-2 (4th in Group A)
First Window: v Netherlands (L) 64-45; v Spain (L) 34-75
While there were some bright spots in the previous set of Qualifiers for Austria, this first window didn't provide much cause for optimism. There was very little either individually or collectively to cheer for and they were left well beaten by Netherlands and completely outclassed and overwhelmed on Spanish soil. This group could be a struggle.
Current Record: 1-1 (3rd in Group C)
First Window: v Poland (L) 62-67; v Azerbaijan (W) 28-136
It wasn't the homecoming the champions had hoped for as the dream turned into a nightmare. They looked jaded in the surprise loss to Poland with a late comeback too little, too late in Antwerp. They bounced back to demolish Azerbaijan and notably they actually lost their first Qualifiers outing last time, so can still be labelled group favorites.
Bosnia and Herzegovina C-
Way off the pace in the Balkan derby and then in Luxembourg, the alarm bells should be sounding. New playcaller Milos Pavlovic can only do so much with the squad at his disposal and without the naturalized player like Jonquel Jones, or even Courtney Hurt, plus unavailable talents like Marica Gajic or Sara Heljic, it's going to remain tough.
While they didn't get a win. Bulgaria deserve some credit for a couple of super competitive displays and they were in both games until late. The ace in their pack Borislava Hristova was superb as usual and it feels like even if they are unlikely to qualify from this position, there is enough to be positive about and to suggest they're moving forwards.
Record: 1-1 (2nd in Group A)
First Window: v Spain (L) 65-70; v Netherlands (W) 81-57
Without some big-hitters like Ivana Dojkic or Ana-Marija Begic, Croatia took Spain to the wire and claimed a huge win against Netherlands. They may be 1-1 and not 2-0, but their performances justifies the grade. It was a nice team effort with good contributions from Patricia Bura, Ivs Slonjsak, Mihaela Lazic and Shavonte Zellous. Very positive.
After two losses, this grade might seem generous, but there was strong mitigation with several players not available for this window. Additionally, much of their woes were due to making an eye-watering 9 of 59 from downtown. The bright spot was the leadership and form of Veronika Vorackova who reminded us all of the level she can reach.
You really can't argue with the job that underdogs Denmark have done in this first window. They were exceptional against Estonia when they took them apart and pushed Sweden on the road hugely - indeed they were in with a big shot of actually taking a win. Maria Jespersen was excellent as always and so was Emilie Hesseldal. Hugely positive!
The confidence of their 2023 Qualifiers when they took the prized scalp of Great Britain and also lost by just one basket to Greece simply drained away with two relatively shocking displays this time. Two massive defeats, including to Denmark raises more questions than answers. They were poor at both ends of the floor. That's the story.
It feels like Finland are capable of making strides in coming years and can build their challenge around the stellar talent of Awak Kuier. She was brilliant and the team racked up that important win in Bulgaria before making Hungary have to grind out the victory. The big question is whether the supporting cast can step up and support Kuier.
There was a sense of blood in the water with many players ruled out and a tricky looking game against Latvia. But instead of being bitten, they were the ones who showed a razor edge with two huge wins - dominating both Latvia and Ireland. Janelle Salaun and Mamignan Toure both impressed and showed the depth of the French talent pool.
This was a window of absolute extremes. They looked invincible as they cruised past Czechia on the road - only for the wheels to come off spectacularly in a big home loss to Italy. The sight of Nyara and Satou Sabally balling together was exciting, but there seems a huge imbalance between the frontcourt and backcourt options for Lisa Thomaidis.
Great Britain B
So what was all that about? A question on everyone's lips as the Brits lost a tight one to Sweden, having emerged from a timeout trailing in the last seconds but not inexplicably fouling in a bid to force overtime and maybe get the win. It was 'Temi-Time' against Estonia as they moved to 1-1, but honestly, what was all that about on Gameday 1?
Record: 1-1 (3rd in Group I)
First Window: v Italy (L) 76-67; v Czechia (W) 75-66
Rocked by the long-term injury to marquee star Mariella Fasoula, this was a bright showing overall within this context. They fought hard in a loss to Italy and were worthy winners against Czechia off the back of a productive display from Eleanna Christinaki. Meanwhile Pinelopi Pavlopoulou handed out a stunning 10.5 assists per game.
Job done. Hungary are favorites to win this group and they were dominant in the opener against Slovenia and were asked a serious question in Helsinki by a resurgent Finland, but answered it emphatically. Their depth of options and team-orientated ethos serves them well and they're in a great spot now. Reka Lelik and Agnes Studer stood out.
It was looking bleak after the loss in Romania, but despite not having their star baller Sara Run Hinriksdottir to call upon, Iceland recovered to push Turkey hard. For much of the fourth quarter, the result looked in the balance. Thelma Dis Agustsdottir and Birna Benonysdottir brought the noise and there's positive vibes for the next window.
Record: 0-1 (3rd in Group E)
First Window: v France (L) 48-100
With just one game in this window because of the postponement of Israel's games, it was always going to be a rough ride for Ireland against France. And so it happened with a big loss and 28 turnovers. Apart from Claire Melia typically showing her talent, there was not a lot to suggest that they can get any wins on the board in this group.
Record: 2-0 (1st in Group I)
First Window: v Greece (W) 76-67; v Germany (W) 53-70
There was a lot to love for Italy in this window after not just two wins, but some great signs that they have recovered mentally from falling short this past summer and also that their younger guns can fire. Lorela Cubaj was terrific with her double-double window, while Matilde Villa is a star and leader in the making and Ilaria Panzera could step up too.
Record: 0-1 (2nd in Group C)
First Window: v France (L) 71-49
Just not good enough. After their premature exit in Tel Aviv this past summer, opportunity to get back on track arose against a France side decimated by injuries. But Latvia didn't turn up and were dominated from tip to buzzer. It was so disappointing, not just the result, but the 22-point margin and also no baller even breaking double-digits in points.
It was ugly against Poland and very physical with a lack of finesse, but Lithuania will not care one bit .They stood up and thanks mainly to Gintare Petronyte rolling back the years, they grabbed that precious overtime win which came after overwhelming Azerbaijan. With players to come back like Juste Jocyte and Kamile Nacickaite, it looks good.
Luxembourg are pinching themselves as they sit 2-0 after two excellent wins and it has been coming gradually as they keep improving. Faith Ehi Etute is an extraordinary talent and a big part of their newfound success. She was sensational, but the likes of Esmeralda Skrijelj played great too. It was a super team effort and A+ is well deserved.
With two comfortable victories, Jelena Skerovic continues to do a great job. Taya Davis-Reimer combined nicely in the frontcourt with Milica Jovanovic, while the Marija Lekovic and Jelena Vucetic backcourt partnership also looks productive. The team played with great control and looked after the ball well - a bit like the trademark of their coach.
Perhaps this is a harsh grade since Netherlands did cruise past Austria, but that 24-point defeat to Croatia kind of gives ammunition to a lower rating because it could be the kind of result that sinks any chance of progressing. Emese Hof was outstanding and amassed huge numbers, but other ballers didn't really hit the heights expected of them.
North Macedonia C
The underdogs put up a decent fight on the road against Portugal before being outlasted, mainly due to their lack of firepower. Outclassed by Serbia which is understandable, it's a difficult group for them to navigate and compete in. Merritt Hempe's quality was in evidence, with Andjelika Mitrashinovikj also stepping up, but there was not a lot else.
Talk about taking a giant leap forwards and the falling back to the starting line. That win at reigning champions Belgium was superb, but was cancelled out by that gut-wrenching overtime loss at home to Lithuania. The addition of Stephanie Mavunga is huge, Weronika Gajda impressed again, but the team missing 29 of 60 free throws? Ouch.
They've never qualified for the FIBA Women's EuroBasket, so could this be it? They've certainly put themselves in a strong position after the first window by beating North Macedonia and Ukraine. Importantly they could have shot much better and can upgrade in this area. Laura Ferreira, Maria Kostourkova and Joana Soeiro stood out in a balanced team effort.
After a disastrous 2023 Qualifiers campaign, Romania can look back with some encouragement at this first window after beating Iceland. They had a number of new faces and look to have possibly turned the page. Credit is due to center Ana Virjoghe who was great, while Gabriela Irimia and Alina Podar also did some good work for their team.
These two displays looked more like the Serbia that has been so good for a decade or so. Defensive pressure and tenacity meant their opponents couldn't cope. The experienced core including Yvonne Anderson and Tina Krajisnik performed well, with rising stars like Angela Dugalic and Masa Jankovic showing they are ready to move up a gear.
It was a disastrous start for new head coach Martin Pospisil as his team never showed up at either end of the court in that 35-point defeat to Turkey. But they dealt with the pressure well in beating Romania to make amends, led by Terezia Palenikova. But too many players were off color and they will need to play better collectively next time.
Without Teja Oblak it was going to be rough for a young Slovenia team and that is how it unfolded as they were soundly beaten by Hungary. At least they had a veteran in the paint in Eva Lisec still on board and her majestic display in the win against Bulgaria, supported by Zala Friskovec, certainly improved the mood. But there's still work to do.
Few people probably envisaged Spain struggling to win as they did in Croatia, even with key absentees. But they got it done and then strolled past Austria. Queralt Casas was huge across both games with her consistent and quality play, while those 9 steals for Laura Gil in the second game were just so impressive. Spain will surely get even better.
That 2-0 record could have been 1-1 or even 0-2 had they not got it done. It was nervous in both games but led by some majestic guard play by Klara Lundquist and to the credit of Kevin Taylor Lundgren, they executed in crunch time. There were some other big interventions such as Louice Halvarsson hitting a go-ahead triple against Denmark.
Record: 0-2 (3rd in Group H)
First Window: v Luxembourg (L) 48-56; v Montenegro (L) 85-61
There was a touch of deja vu for the Swiss as they lost again to Luxembourg as they did in the previous Qualifiers. With Montenegro also having too much for them, it was a difficult window. They just never go to the hoop enough as just nine free-throws across two games shows. At least young Lin Schwarz excelled and that was something to embrace.
Record: 2-0 (1st in Group F)
First Window: v Slovakia (W) 75-40; v Iceland (W) 65-72
This was two vastly different performances from Turkiye meaning it's difficult to warrant an A grade. Certainly they were on course after that blistering win against Slovakia, but they almost fell spectacularly in Iceland. Quanitra Hollingsworth and Elif Bayram were good, but the usually excellent Olcay Cakir and Tilbe Senyurek were quiet.
Not having Alina Iagupova was like having a car with no engine. Fears Ukraine would struggle without their tour de force materialized. They looked lost when swept aside by Serbia and losing to Portugal. Qualifying looks unlikely and the only chance now is Iagupova getting back onto the floor for the next windows and somehow saving the day.
*The gradings are entirely subjective. All comments are purely those of the author.
The FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers Team Grades 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.