By Jeff Taylor
|Cleopatra Forsman-Goga was the MVP in her home country at the U18 European Championship in 2009|
Fredrik Joulamo speaks enthusiastically when the subject is the Swedish team he is going to coach this summer at the U20 European Championship for Women Division B.
Some of his players figure to represent the senior side for many years to come.
One is Cleopatra Forsmann-Goga, the MVP of the U18 European Championship for Women back in 2009.
She was good then, and she's even better now.
"Cleopatra Forsman-Goga has developed in several ways," Joulamo said to Basketball World News.
"She is more of a team leader now, and has become a better shooter from the outside.
"Cleo is used to having an important role in her different teams, and this national team is no exception.
"She will be one of our leaders."
A couple of other standouts from that same under-18 team are Farhiya Abdi and Frida Fogdemark.
"Farhiya Abdi has grown into a top performer in the Swedish league, and has developed both technically and physically," Joulamo said.
"She is much stronger now, and is better at playing with the whole team.
"She is an extraordinary talent, one of Europe's top young players, and will be one of our key-players."
A player that Joulamo hasn't been able to watch is Fogdemark, but he has no doubt about her potential.
"Frida Fogdemark has been at Georgia Tech since last summer, and I´m sure she has learned a lot," Joulamo said.
"I haven´t had a chance to see her this season, but knowing Frida, she has most certainly practiced hard.
"Her outside shooting combined with her rebounding skills are a weapon for us."
Hungry For More Success
Two years ago, when the Swedes were climbing to the top of the podium, those like Joulamo who put in endless hours of work were predicting big things for women's basketball.
"I think that the bronze from 2009 was very important for this team, and for Swedish basketball in general," said Joulamo, who was an assistant coach for that side.
"We managed to achieve under pressure, at home in Sweden, and had our goals set on a medal all the way through the preparations.
"To live up to our goals under that pressure is an extremely good experience."
Forsman-Goga will be an interesting player to watch.
"Cleo is very athletic," Joulamo said.
"She gets into the lane, both with the ball and cutting off-ball.
"Cleo is a smart player with a winner's attitude.
"She is a great rebounder and is hard to stop when driving to the basket. She can defend at several positions, both guards and forwards."
There is a real buzz about Abdi, too.
"Farhiya has always had good moves from the low-post, but the way I see her is she is an all-round player," Joulamo said.
"She is a good shooter, she can attack from the outside, and she can post-up.
"The parts of her game that have developed the most are her pull-up jumper and her defense."
Good Chance To Go Up
The time was never better for Sweden to win promotion in the U20 European Championship for
|Farhiya Abdi is one of the other core players for Sweden when they look to gain promotion to Division A|
The Division B tournament will be staged in Ohrid, FYR of Macedonia, from July 8-17.
"This age group (1991-92) knows each other very well," Joulamo said.
"They have played together a lot, and they have had success under pressure before.
"It is a highly skilled set of players, and I think we have all the elements we need to perform well this summer."
In the grand scheme of things, the youth tournaments have been essential for the growth of the game in Sweden.
"They are crucial, both to the individual players and to Swedish basketball," Joulamo said.
"We need these tough games to develop players that can perform on the highest level.
"To be the best, you have to play the best."
As for the practicalities of getting ready for Ohrid, Joulamo is already working out with some of the players.
"Our preparations are already underway," he said.
"We started practicing at the end of April, and we have a training camp coming up in a couple of weeks.
"In the middle of June, we go to Berlin for a couple of games against Germany, and after that we are invited to Rezé where we will play some of the world's best under-19 teams.
"Right before the Championships, we play a tournament in Caorle against Spain, Italy and Germany.
"We have a very good preparation schedule, and we will be ready to play when the Championships start."