|23 August 2012|
|Alina Iagupova has raised eyebrows in Debrecen, ranking first in points, assists, steals and drawn fouls|
By Paul Nilsen
The race to make the All Tournament Team at the U20 European Championship Women is gathering momentum as the competition enters its' important final phase in Debrecen.
Ukraine has been led by the unmistakable all-round influence of tournament leading scorer Alina Iagupova who made her bid to make the ‘fabulous five' with a marvellous triple-double in the last game of the Second Round.
While her overall shooting percentage isn't exactly fantastic, she has had to cope with extreme defensive attention to average 26.2 points per game and is firing over 40% from long-range which is superb after launching a mind-boggling 62 three-point attempts.
It's not exactly easy for Iagupova who can be seen by many to be trying to win games single-handedly but she has shown she is not only willing to do the hard work on the glass if needed, she is incredibly leading the competition in assists also with five per game.
Then, if you consider she also leads the tournament in steals with 3.7 per game and has drawn way more fouls than any other player, there seems to be an overwhelming case to include her even if Ukraine doesn't make the Semi-Finals.
Meanwhile Lydumyla Naumenko has proven it isn't all about Iagupova since she is in the tournament top five for both field goal percentage and offensive rebounding.
Belarus are another team who many didn't expect to make it to the last eight but Maryia Papova has performed well, leading her team in points, rebounds and assists although just like Iagupova, her field goal percentage isn't spectacular.
This is why team-mate Maryia Filonchyk could be the player who has the best chance of booking a spot with a similarly impressive but more efficient 13 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Leading Their Teams To The Quarter-Finals
The Netherlands were the last team to make it to the last eight and they mainly had Zera Butter to thank for this. The guard has been outstanding, averaging 18.2 points per game thanks to her superb perimeter shooting. She has also done a great job defensively with 2.3 steals per game.
Meanwhile France hasn't exactly shone brightly although the one consistent factor they have been able to rely on, is the three-point threat posed by Sara Chevaugeon. She is currently shooting 46.7% from downtown after making a healthy 14 of 30 from long-range.
|Last year's MVP Queralt Casas is likely to add another All Tournament nomination to her collection |
Despite not topping their respective group in the Second Round, Spain has been one of the stand-out teams so far and that's not exactly a surprise with last summer's MVP Queralt Casas showcasing her full repertoire of skills.
Lightening quick both in body and mind, incredibly intense and yet so contrastingly composed on her decision making, she has looked every bit a class act once again.
She has the best two-point field goal percentage around in addition to a brilliant 3.5 steals per game but even the best can find areas to improve and she will be slightly disappointed with her perimter game which has harvested just one success from sixteen attempts.
Sweden finished above Spain in the Second Round with both Farhiya Abdi and Amanda Zahui big factors for the Division A returnees as expected.
WNBA draftee and EuroLeague Women player Abdi leads the way in scoring with 16.8 points per game and while she hasn't always shot the ball quite as well as she may have liked, she has made game-winning plays, done an excellent job on the boards and continues to draw copious amount of fouls.
Center Zahui leads Sweden in rebounding, blocks and even steals to underline that she is not only a physical presence inside but also has quick hands and great anticipation on defence. Equally Ellen Nyström has pulled the strings to great effect in the backcourt with 3.3 assists per game.
Turkey is now the only unbeaten team in Debrecen and clearly it has been their overall depth which has been the key with no true stand-out performers - certainly not a bad thing.
The likes of Olcay Cakir, Ayse Cora, Emel Güler and Özge Kavurmacioglu can all probably play even better during the last few days and that is exciting for Turkish fans.
Russia has been inconsistent ever since they tipped-off their campaign although Darya Namok has chosen her moments from downtown very wisely and at crunch times too, making 8 of her 13 attempts.
But, it has been a tournament double-double of 11.5 points and 11.2 rebounds from Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje center Ksenia Tikhonenko which has been the key to the Russians progressing.
|Poland's Magdalena Zietara has impressed with her decision making in clutch moments of the game|
There are of course also plenty of honourable mentions to make for those teams who couldn't book a spot in the last eight including the dynamic Magdalena Zietara of Poland who has really lit it up for her team on a number of occasions and has been a delight to watch. She currently holds the third best field goal percentage in the tournament.
That statistical category is led by the wonderful Zofia Hruscakova who, at the age of just seventeen, has produced an outstanding campaign in the paint for the Slovak Republic. The same can be said for Ivana Brajkovic of Serbia who also impressed under the hoop.
Even in the Relegation Round, players can reflect on satisfying individual performances. It's been a forgettable time for Great Britain but Jessica Hurd couldn't have done much more with 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, shooting close to 60%.
Caterina Dotto has stood out for Italy, Dita Rozenberga has been a tower of strength for Latvia and Daniela Domingues inspirational for Portugal, leading her team in points, assists and blocks.
There is of course still plenty of time for other players in the Quarter-Finals to make a late run to the All-Tournament Team and especially if they play a major role in getting their team onto the podium.