28 June, 2014
06 July
USA - 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women winners
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FIBA U17W - Favourites and champions bid to complete three-peat

KLATOVY/PILSEN (FIBA U17 World Championship for Women) - Stung by a shock defeat to France last week during their preparations, the reigning champions USA have plenty to ponder as they embark on trying to land a third successive crown at the FIBA U17 World Championship for  Women.

Despite the setback, the USA remain as red-hot favourites at the third edition of the tournament and will be led by Asia Durr on the hardwood, with Sue Phillips taking the coaching reins from Jill Schneider who won gold last time out.

Spain have looked imperious during preparation and led by the classy Angela Salvadores, they certainly appear to be serious podium candidates and consecutive final appearances looks a realistic prospect.

While France just squeezed into the competition at the U16 European Championship for Women last year, their win against the USA could prove a real confidence boost. And, with Lisa Berkani now joined by Alix Duchet in the backcourt, they have a quality feel in the guard spots, having reached the Final as hosts of the inaugural competition in 2010.

Australia are out to try and achieve their first podium finish, with the Gems having registered an extensive and intense preparation period. Head coach Chris Lucas will be hoping this will pay dividends, along with the talent of Tahlia Tupaea and Alexandra Sharp in particular.

Canada grabbed a memorable bronze in the Netherlands two years ago, and while a repeat would be tough, they have two very capable players in the backcourt and under the hoop in Bridget Carleton and Lauren Yearwood.

Italy may have been hoping to make an impression but have been stung by the withdrawl of marquee player Francesca Pan, meaning the Azzurre must cope without the biggest piece in their jigsaw. So expect Mariella Santucci to try and fill the void.

Three other European nations certainly haven't had far to travel and will all make their debuts. The Slovak Republic are likely to be underdogs, although they have some real talent in Veronika Remenarova and Lucia Striesova, while Hungary will look to Debora Dubei to propel them - but look out for the rebounding prowess of Eniko Kuttor too.

Czech Republic will have the added bonus of strong local support as hosts. Having pushed Spain hard at U16 level last year and only just missing out on gold, they will have high hopes of doing well. They have a great frontcourt duo in Julia Reisingerova and Tereza Sipova.

Mexico and Egypt are also taking their first steps and while both will not be favoured to progress, they will be bursting to defy those predictions by causing an upset. Nayeli Ortiz is a leader for the former, while Nadine Mohamed could be the player to shine for the African side.

The only game Egypt lost at last year's FIBA Africa U16 Championship for Women was against unbeaten Mali who had the prolific Djeneba N'Diaye.

The Malians will be out to repeat their feat from 2012 when they registered a precious and landmark win in Amsterdam.

Japan recorded a scintillating run all the way to the Semi-Finals in 2012 and would love a repeat. Yuki Kato has vowed to step up having been part of that team which made it to the last four.

Brazil will look for a team focus and bid to improve on their struggles at the last tournament, harnessing the solid all-round play of Mariane De Carvalho, Aline De Moura and Wytalla Motta.

Korea, meanwhile, could have one of the most dominant players in the tournament via the phenomenal Ji Su Park, while China will hope they can build on gold at the 2013 FIBA Asia U16 Championship for Women where Dilishati Dilana produced a quite brilliant shooting display from start to finish.

It certainly looks like being an absorbing and highly entertaining event for fans in Klatovy and Pilsen.