Women’s EuroBasket returns following coronavirus pandemic

There was joy for Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia as they all maintained their unbeaten records in the Qualifiers to move closer to securing a place at the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2021 Final Round.

The opening day of the November window not only saw each nation take important victories, it was also the first FIBA national team competition to resume action in Europe since the suspension of all competitions back in March.

Belgium shrugged off the absence of Emma Meesseman to get the job done by shutting down Group G bubble hosts Portugal 59-49 as Kim Mestdagh used her experience and quality to guide her team over the line with a team-high 17 points.

Croatia are yet to taste defeat after easing past North Macedonia 80-62 in the Riga-based Group I. Ivana Dojkic showed out with 30 points and 8 assists, while Ana-Marija Begic played the supporting role with 21 points. The win came despite North Macedonia being boosted by WNBA and EuroLeague Women star Dewanna Bonner who had a massive 20 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists in defeat.

Group E leaders Serbia stayed flawless after taking an 82-71 win against Lithuania, with Aleksandra Crvendakic leading the way after netting 19 points.

In Group C, Bosnia and Herzegovina continued their good work from November 2019 with a third win in a row, managing to sweep aside Estonia 92-54. Marica Gajic was unstoppable with a monumental 21 points and 19 rebounds.

Slovenia also stayed perfect and moved to 3-0 in Group A with a crushing 94-58 success against Iceland. It was founded mainly on a stellar display from Shante Evans who amassed 21 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. There was also a sparkling contribution from Annamaria Prezelj who shot the lights out en-route to 23 points, with Slovenia now potentially able to stamp their Final Round ticket on Saturday.

A number of nations picked up priceless first wins, including Montenegro, who worked hard to shrug off Israel 73-66. It was Milica Jovanovic and Markeisha Gatling  who proved to be the difference makers, with both landing double-doubles. The former chipped in with with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, while Gatling accumulated 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Slovakia had to come from behind after a slow start to get their opening victory on the board, managing to put the brakes on Netherlands to prevail 85-64 in the only Group H game of the day. Barbora Balintova was the leader as usual with 20 points and 8 assists.

Elsewhere, Germany weren’t able to field standout star Satou Sabally, but still came up with a pivotal 73-67 win against Latvia in one of the most exciting games of the day. In an roller-coaster affair, Marie Guelich claimed 18 points and 11 rebounds, while her partner in the paint Luisa Geiselsoder dropped 20 points.

Ukraine are still in the mix in Group G after Alina Iagupova posted a stunning triple-double to take down Finland 84-66. She finished with a brilliant 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. There was also a nice cameo from Veronika Liubinets who blocked six shots to go with her 19 point haul.

Greece breathed a significant sigh of relief as they improved to 2-1 after claiming a 73-66 win against Bulgaria. Center Maria Fasoula stood out with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Finally, Russia blasted their way to a mammoth 98-42 triumph against Switzerland as Maria Vadeeva barely missed a shot all night. She eventually finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds.

Photo/Words: FIBA