Quietly Going About Business

10. Anastasiya Verameyenka (Belarus)
Anastasiya Verameyenka emits a rare smile - something that the focused forward will not show once she steps on the court

By Joe Hewison

Belarus' twin towers of Anastasiya Verameyenka and Yelena Leuchanka have made some real noise in the opening two rounds of EuroBasket Women with their dominant displays down low.

But the mild-mannered Verameyenka remains something of a mystery.

At 1.95m, the 25-year-old provides a huge presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.

So far in this competition she is averaging two blocks a game to go with 6.6 rebounds, but this statistic does not nearly do justice to the impact she has, altering opponents' shots and challenging them with her ranging reach.

Not only that, but Verameyenka can score in a variety of ways, whether it is put-backs from rebounds, drives to the hoop or even stepping outside to strike from three-point range.

Such special plays, at crucial times in her team's tournament, have sent Belarus' boisterous travelling fans into wild celebrations.

But you won't see such a reaction from the ice cool center, who remains relaxed and stern-faced throughout, not because she does not care, but because if it does not add to her performance, then it is not important.

"That's just who I am," said Verameyenka.

"For me personally, it is easier to run faster than to express my emotions in a very outgoing manner."

In fairness, Verameyenka's play speaks louder than any chest thumping or finger wagging ever could.

Last summer during qualification, in the absence of her frontcourt foil, she led her country in style, filling the stats sheet with team highs in points, rebounds, assists and blocks.

These performances, coupled with her consistent club play in her first season with Fenerbahce in EuroLeague women, saw her selected as Belarus Player of the Year, ahead of last year's winner Leuchanka.

11. Yelena Leuchanka (Belarus)
Yelena Leuchanka and Verameyenka provide one of the most formiddable frontcourt combinations in France

But there is no bickering between the Belarus bigs. All the talk between them is focused on making their team better.

"The status of being the best player is just a formality because I always go for the result of the team and that is what counts," said Verameyenka.

"The team became stronger when Yelena arrived. As for our partnership, it is also very good. We get on well together and we communicate and play well."

That partnership helped push Belarus to a third-place finish at EuroBasket Women 2007 in Italy and clearly remains one of the team's core strengths.

But Verameyenka believes changes elsewhere in the roster have given Belarus a different dimension as they look to take a further step up the podium this time around.

"Compared to 2007, some key players are missing and we have some new, younger players," she added.

"This means we are faster and able to play a more aggressive game now.

"I hope we can win the competition."

As long as Belarus' frontcourt combo continue to contribute in the way they have done, they will have a chance.

Just don't expect Verameyenka to be the one leading the post-game party from the front like she leads the team on the court.


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