Race for MVP : From One To Three

06 August 2009

by Paul Nilsen

Having already assessed the front-court contenders in the race for MVP and the ‘All Tournament Team', its now time to look at the contenders who do their work in the back-court or from the wing positions.

Other than Julie Vanloo and maybe Olcay Cakir, it has certainly proved to be a lot more difficult to choose the outstanding players in the 1-3 spots in the tournament. There are so many players who have made contribution, as the lengthy Honourable Mention list will testify.

Julie Vanloo - Belgium
Along with her team-mate Meesseman, has to be one of the leading contenders and at the front of the race. Comfortable with the ball in her hands or stepping aside to the two spot she has pretty much got it all. She is the best free-throw shooter in the tournament and a good three-point shooter. An intelligent playmaker when at the point position, she also makes good decisions on fast breaks. Most impressively of all she is a lively character on the floor, goes about her business with a confident swagger but that does not mean she is not a hard worker for a team and happy to give encouragement to her team-mates. Best of all and what has distinguished her from most other players, she also has a sweet looking jump shot in her locker. Has looked a real class act and gets even more pleasure from her team-mates scoring which speaks volumes for her on and off the court.

Olcay Cakir - Turkey
The heartbeat of the Turkish team, Cakir leads by example with her defence at the top of the zone and her incredible passion always shines through each day. Whether her team are leading or trailing by 20 points, whether she is on the floor or on the bench, mentally she is never out of the game. Always encouraging and always pulling the strings her influence on he Turkish team is immeasurable. She has a slight build but still manages to get to the hoop with unerring efficiency. Among the tournament leaders in both steals and assists and the only point guard with not one, but two double-doubles to her name, she is a point guard that definitely leads from the front. A reliable finisher she can stop and make some jump shots. The only downside is maybe trying too hard at times and that sometimes means one or two turnovers too many.

Evita Iiskola - Finland
Could have probably been included in part one of our race for tournament MVP as she floats between the 2,3 and 4 spots but has spent a lot of time cutting in from the wings and finishing plays. Finishing is her business when she is on the court. She can shoot, she can get hustle put backs and she can run the floor well. She can handle the ball adequately and if only she could have made more shots from downtown range then he would have been a big contender.

4. Francesca Dotto (Italy)
Francesca Dotto leads Italy in Assists and Steals and with the absence of Formica also has to carry a lot of responsibility

Francesca Dotto - Italy
Dotto is a really tough player who has led her team well on defence with some hard work and intelligent plays. Her reading of the game is impressive and her intensity on the floor is the key to her game. She gets big steals and makes big time triples on a consistent basis. Characterises the Italian team with her energy and attitude.

Olivia Epoupa - France
Arguably the best defensive player in the tournament, what Epoupa lacks in height, she more than makes up for with tenacity and quickness. She is great on most aspects of defence, not only getting her hands working to grab steals but also using her quick feet to great effect laterally. Offensively she is fundamentally sound and capable of making a big shot - as she proved in a tight game against Greece. However her truly stunning 4.4 steals per game ratio remains her forte.

Andrea Vilaro - Spain
Vilaro is a coaches dream, she is a player that can play on the wing and drain triples for her team as she has showed throughout the tournament so far, even when Spain have faltered. However she has other talents in her locker as evidenced during the pulsating game with Italy when she faked outside and put the ball on the floor to power her way along the baseline to the hoop. Even without the ball she has the intelligence to draw defenders out because of her perimeter threat and then make cuts back door to catch defenders flat footed. Decent rebounder and a poor game against Turkey aside, is a growing influence.

Elena De Alfredo - Spain
She looks a pure shooter but like team-mate Vilaro, is not afraid do the dirty work inside too if necessary. De Alfredo gives Spain the kind of threat who can open up space for others and is also a player who looks like getting stronger with each game. Could prove to be a real game winner if she keeps shooting the ball well in the last eight of the Championships.

Honourable Mention
Anette Juvonen - Finland
Elisavet Politopoulou - Greece
Anastasia Slouka - Greece
Sophie Eder - Germany
Lynn Delvaux - Belgium
Tereza Vyoralova - Czech Republic
Galina Kiseleva - Russia
Ina Jackevic - Lithuania
Yurena Diaz - Spain

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