As we head to the second round of Eurobasket Women, TalkBasket’s John Hobbs looks at the nations that have made it through and how they rank in his eyes in terms of performance.
1 – FRANCE
As expected, the hosts have been dominant. They have eased through Group C with a 3-0 record and have only conceded 118 points in those three contests, Great Britain’s 47 points being the most amount of points that France have allowed. The frightening thing is that Celine Dumerc hasn’t hit full form yet – but she hasn’t needed to. In fairness though, apart from a few periods against GB, they haven’t been tested at all, so as we head to the second stage, France might see some competition. But they have, so far, lived up to their billing as favourites.
2 – TURKEY
The 2011 runners-up won each of their Group A clashes comfortably and that included a tough clash with Montenegro. Turkey probably have more depth than any other nation at Eurobasket and it used this to their advantage as every player on the roster can step up when needed. They have to maintain this if they are to progress any further in the competition.
3 – SPAIN
Spain have a history of crumbling when it matters but so far, so good as Lucas Mondelo’s side have got on with the task at hand plus with Sancho Lyttle and Alba Torrens in good form, they seem confident, heading into round two. Question is: Can they stay together when it matters this time? Thursday’s clash with the Slovak Republic will provide us with a hint.
4 – MONTENEGRO
Jelena Dubljevic has been the standout for a Montenegrin side that looks full of confidence when she’s on the floor. It doesn’t mean that they rely on her 100 percent. They seem generally happy just being on the floor and playing basketball. They have a tremendous fighting spirit and it gets results. Look for them to follow a similar route as they did in 2011, unless the confidence disappeared overnight.
5 – BELARUS
Belarus looked comfortable in their group, even though they lost their final game against Lithuania, but that was a game that saw the bench see the important minutes. However, they look very reliant on Yelena Leuchenka to produce and the supporting cast have not provided much at both ends. It might change in the second round.
6 – GREAT BRITAIN
Out of all the teams that remain, Great Britain have the most weight placed on their shoulders in a demand by sports agency UK Sport to deliver results or lose funding, which would mean the possible end of GB Basketball. But, the first goal is complete; they’ve advanced to the second round and GB have shown that they can compete. They outplayed a well-organised Serbia outfit and beat 2011 quarter-finalists Latvia to get here. Jo Leedham has led the line for them but others are showing their quality as well, and they’ll fancy their chances in this round.
7 – CZECH REPUBLIC
They bounced back from their opening day drubbing to Belarus to win the other two games, but they will be tested in the second round. The silver medal days of 2010 are in the past but the rebuilding Czech Republic side will provide stiff competition for whoever they face.
8 – CROATIA
Croatia have quietly gone about their business like they normally do. A team with no real superstar on their roster this year, they have relied on each other to perform. Ana Lelas and Antonija Misura have led the side at both ends, perhaps more production from Iva Ciglar could be a positive influence if the Croats are to advance from the second round.
9 – SLOVAK REPUBLIC
Coach Ivan Vojtko can be proud of what his side have achieved so far, no doubt his goal was the second round and his young squad have done just that. However, the youth and inexperience makes them doubtful to progress further, but there is a lot of promise in this rebuilding Slovakian side, this maybe the start of a new chapter in Slovakian women’s basketball.
10 – ITALY
Like the Slovaks, Italy will be happy that they have made it this far. Their win over Sweden remains, in my personal opinion, the game of the tournament, but they will need to produce more than their ‘A-Game’ if they are to progress further.
11 – SWEDEN
The story of the group stage, mainly as they comfortably defeated champions Russia, which more than earned their spot into the second round. Experience and skill set might be lacking, but the Swedes make up for it with passion, determination and fearlessness. They will play with nothing to lose and you never know in basketball.
12 – SERBIA
The main goal was to beat Latvia and hope to beat Great Britain in order to get through. They completed one out of the two tasks, which will make coach Marina Maljkovic happy. They will need to pull out all the stops to progress further here, but a solid showing from the Serbs.