Everything you need to know about the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2019
BANGKOK (Thailand) - There will be plenty to enjoy when the action gets underway at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2019 in Thailand.
We have put together some interesting facts about the competition and each nation to provide you with your ultimate guide to the event - both on the competition itself and also by the teams
No defense of the crown
For the first time since 2005, the nation who topped the podium at the previous edition, won't get to defend their title. The 2017 champions Russia failed to make the cut at last year's FIBA U18 Women's European Championship. The irony was that they missed out on their ticket while playing on the exact same court as they won the precious silverware in Udine two years ago!
There is likely to be a number of players who already know what it is like to step out at the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup, having appeared in 2017. The most notable of these could include the likes of Park Jihyun of Korea, Jaz Shelley of Australia, Yuan Li of China (pictured).
Will there be a sixth name on the Trophy?
Five nations have won the competition since its inception in 1985. They are USA (7),Soviet Union (2), Russia (1), Australia (1), Czech Republic (1). Will we get a sixth country to add to this list? Perhaps the biggest names in the women's basketball world yet to take this title are the likes of Spain, France, China and Canada.
Back to Bangkok
This is the second time that the Thai capital has hosted the competition. They did so back in 2009 and this time around, they will be hoping to give the home fans the joy of a win, having gone 0-5 in their previous appearance a decade ago. Although the locals did get to see WNBA and Opals' star Liz Cambage in action as she finished as the tournament's leading scorer.
A Debut Trio
There are three nations making their first ever appearance at the event in Colombia, Germany and Mozambique.
Continental champions expect to shine
The event features all the U18 Continental Champions from 2018. They are Germany (Europe), China (Asia), USA (Americas), Mali (Africa), with each nation expected to push for the podium, perhaps with the exception of Mali.
By the teams:
Argentina are back after missing the last edition. Their greatest moment in the competition actually came in Bangkok back during 2009 when they famously took a bronze medal, which remains their only top three finish to date. They will be led by an exciting one-two punch of Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global campers Flo Chagas and Sofia Acevedo.
Australia have won a bronze medal at two of the last three editions (2013 and 2015) and they have made the Final twice (1993 and 1997).It was in 1993 that they gloriously won the competition, while in 1997 they fielded the legendary duo of Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor. Australia were stung last year with only a 3rd place finish at U18 Asia level and have boosted their roster with some younger talent who took bronze at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018.
Belgium will be led by sister-act Billie and Beckey Massey, with the former an ex-MVP of the BWB Global camp. It is also worth looking out for head coach Arvid Diels, who is probably the most animated play-caller in the entire women’s global game.
Canada made history at the last edition of the competition as they finally got onto the podium. They landed bronze and they also got attention when the highly-rated Laeticia Amihere bravely went for a historic first ever dunk, but just came up short. Last year Christina Morra made the All-Star Five at the U18 Americas.
China arrive in Bangkok having continued their domination of the FIBA U18 Women's Asian Championship last year. Even the introduction of a new entrant in Australia didn't knock them off course as MVP Yuan Li inspired another gold. China have never reached the Final of this competition and their only medal came back in 2005 when they took bronze in Tunisia.
Colombia are set to make their maiden appearance at the event, having joyously celebrated booking their spot with a 4th place finish at the U18 Americas last year. Interestingly their debut comes 12 months after a first FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup outing. They will be powered by Maria Alvarez and Mayra Caicedo.
Germany made history last year when they not only made the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship Final for the first time, they went one better and managed to lift the title in an eye-catching success against Spain. Now they are looking forward to stepping out in a first global competition for any of their female youth teams. They will be weaker without Oregon forward Nyara Sabally, who was MVP last year for them, but Leonie Fiebich and Emily Bessoir are likely to be pick up a big chunk of that load.
Hungary are stepping out at the event for the third time, having previously appeared in 2005 and 2017. There are exciting things happening at youth level for Hungary right now and hopes will be high they can post a strong tournament. One target at this event might be to make the top six having finished 8th and 9th previously. If they are fully loaded, they could be one of the most attractive teams to watch as their ‘team ball’ and movement was fantastic in Udine at U18 level last year when they won bronze. Watch out for Aliz Varga, Barbara Angyal and Reka Dombai.
Japan will be another fun team to watch as always, due to their energetic and entertaining style that relies on quickness and sharp-shooting from long-range. Some might feel they have never fulfilled their potential at this event as they are still waiting for a first medal. After making the U18 Asia Final last year, they have a talented Group and led by Nanako Todo, Layla Takehara and Norika Konno, they could do good things.
Korea will be open to the possibilities of a long-awaited deep run if their inspirational senior team player Jiyhun Park is in the mix and ready to fire. With Sohee Lee an excellent scorer and creator as well, they have talent. They are another Asian nation yet to make it onto the podium. Their main task will be to improve on their last outing in 2017 when they posted a dismal 1-6 record.
Latvia can lay claim to one of the most talented frontcourt players around to spearhead their campaign, in the shape of Laura Meldere. She is likely to be the anchor in the paint and if Aleksa Gulbe wins her race to recover from an injury, it will be a dynamic partnership. Latvia made their debut at the last edition of the tournament and so an immediate ambition will be to better their 10th place finish and/or to post a winning record having been 3-4 in Udine.
During 2017, Mali inked a notable historical chapter after they became the first African nation to win two games at the same edition. Can they continue the momentum? Especially having won a 7th title in 8 editions of the FIBA Africa U18 Women's Championship last year. Aminata Sangare is just one of the players to look out for after shining brightly last year at the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup while Assetou Sissoko was the TISSOT MVP when they won their title at U18.
Mozambique are appearing at the event for the first time and the immediate goal will be to get a famous and memorable maiden win on the board. And, with Thailand in the same group, they will feel they have an ideal opportunity to do it. They grabbed their ticket last year in the U18 AfroBasket Women Final when they secured a silver medal on home soil in Maputo. That came thanks mainly to the work of Filipa Calisto, who made the All-Star Five.
Spain have been in the title game twice after making consecutive Finals in 2009 and 2011. They lost to USA on both occasions and have not managed to take a podium spot since. Whether this will be the year they get back among the medals remains to be seen, not least because they have opted not to include the powerful Raquel Carrera in the team who is focusing on U18 and U20 instead. Much will hinge on forward Maria Pendande who finished in the All-Star Five at U18 in Udine last year.
Thailand host for the second time in their history and this will also be their second appearance. Searching for a momentous first victory, that would be a major step forward and thrill the locals, although it will be a tough assignment. Not least because the team did not compete at U18 Asia level last year. Having a potentially winnable contest against rookies Mozambique helps and in Yada Sriharaska they have a player capable of positive things who can lead the team.
USA are bidding to make a staggering 8th consecutive Final and if they do finish on the top of the podium steps, it will also be their 8th overall title. They may not be arriving as defending champions, a feeling they have never had since 2005, but will still be the team to beat and are huge favorites as usual. They are likely to have some players from last year's gold medal winning side at the FIBA U17 Women's Basketball World Cup in Minsk.