Group F Preview

31 October 2013

EUROCUP WOMEN

8. Chantelle Handy (Great Britain)
A handy acquisition: British international Chantelle Handy will add depth to Nantes Reze's roster this season

With less than a week to go until the new season tips-off, we look at the chances of the four teams in Group F.

There are two French clubs in the group and they have both made very different starts in their respective domestic campaigns.

Nantes Reze have worryingly lost four of their first five games in the French League, although should still fancy their chances of progressing to the second stage of EuroCup Women.

Leading the way will be some new recruits, including headline acquisitions in the form of American Shamela Hampton, who has played the last few seasons in Italy and also Aussie star Cayla Francis, who signs from Aix-en-Provence.

The forward duo should be able to do some damage in the competition and will form a strong looking front quartet, with Great Britain national team forward Chantelle Handy also picked up in the summer via Mersin in Turkey and the ever-reliable Marielle Amant retained from last season.

The expert hand of Caroline Aubert will again pull the strings in the backcourt with Isis Arrondo. It's also worth looking out for young Claire Stievenard, a work-horse wing player who has always caught the eye for her court smarts with the French national youth teams.

Emma Meesseman (Belgium)
Star-in-the-making Emma Meesseman will be watched closely when she takes to the court for Villenueve d'Ascq this season

Villeneuve d'Ascq have had a perfect start to their season in the French League and could be favourites to take top spot in the group. They have some very exciting players including Belgian sensation Emma Meesseman. The former FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year has just returned from a WNBA campaign with the Washington Mystics and has the genuine capacity to become one of the top players in Europe.

Meanwhile the addition of the irrepressible Swedish national team guard Elin Eldebrink adds a high basketball IQ and unerring defence to the mix, with French shooting guard Johanne Gomis always liable to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Laetitia Kamba is strong in the four spot and has EuroLeague Women experience with USO Mondeville and there is always a potential game-winner around if veteran American Lenae Williams is on the floor, another player who has previously played at the very highest level in a Mondeville vest.

It's hard to know what to expect from Belgian side Belfius Namur Capitale even though they enter a sixth successive EuroCup campaign. Over the course of the past three seasons they have shown the ability to post anything from a 0-6 season to a 4-4 season.

But, they might be something of a surprise package and cause some problems for their opponents this time, since they have a nice mixture of youth and experience. They have made some significant signings during the off-season, picking up veteran playmaker Kathy Wambe from Famila Schio and Belarus national team rising star Maryia Papova who is still a teenager, but was a leader for Olimpia Grodno in the competition last year.

With prolific shooting guard Julie Wojta back on board and powerful center Djenebou Sissoko also re-signed after a double-double season in the tournament last time out, their prospects looks good on paper.

Last but not least, Hungarian outfit PEAC-Pecs are entering new territory and with a young team which has an average age of just 22, much will depend on their core rotation around a notable key quartet.

This will consist of playmakers Diana Furesz and Maurita Reid in the backcourt, with Furesz possessing plenty of EuroLeague Women and Hungarian national team experience and the latter showing her all-round skills by leading Gospic Croatia in points, assists and steals in EuroLeague Women a couple of season ago, pouring in a very impressive 17.1 points-per-game.

Latoya Williams and Nora Nagy-Bujdoso will be the main threats in the paint, with the duo both playing in EuroLeague Women last season. American center Williams played with WBC Novi Zagreb and Nagy-Budjoso had a nice season with Uni Gyor, averaging 12 points and 6.8 rebounds-per-game.

It will also be worth watching out for the sharp-shooting of Serbian wing Nevena Jovanovic. She has made the move from Partizan Galenika and will want to have a strong first year outside of her homeland to keep her place in the national team leading up to a historic first outing at the FIBA World Championship for Women.

Group F looks like being on the the most wide-open in the competition.


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