|25 July 2012|
|Kourtney Treffers was outstanding for the Netherlands in the 2011 Championship and she now has a season of EuroLeague Women experience under her belt|
U18 European Championship Women Group C could prove something of a tight affair and difficult to predict with the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic all locked together last summer at the U16 European Championship Women in the 9-11th spots.
The Netherlands may feel as if they have the best chance to really make a push this year.
They have power forward Kourtney Treffers on board, who has already had her potential highlighted after penning a deal this time last year with EuroLeague Women finalists Rivas Ecopolis.
Treffers was going to be joined in the frontcourt by 1995-born standout Merlin Lammerink, who claimed a tournament double-double at the U16 Championship last year, but a knee injury means she can't play and that is a huge blow for the Netherlands.
The versatile Kamila Hoskova will be a player to follow for the Czech Republic while Mariana Oponceska is a nice prospect under the hoop, along with Nada Salacova.
However, any chance the Czechs have of flirting with the podium probably rests primarily on Tereza Vyoralova who will be the reference player, taking into account her excellent contribution at this level last summer, when they finished in ninth position.
The Slovak Republic narrowly avoided relegation last year, only just scraping through to rubber-stamp their Division A status, although perhaps brighter things could be ahead with two of their top performers, in Angelika Slamova and Barbora Balintova, both due to return.
With a solid bunch of 1995-born players and the power of centre Zofia Hruscakova to call upon this time around, they can't be written off and could make life difficult for their opponents in the Group.
Croatia was crowned Division B champions last summer with Ivana Tikvic voted as the MVP and thankfully for her team, the 1.89 centre from Zagreb will be back on board to lead them having averaged an eye-popping 20 points and 12.6 rebounds in the second tier.
In fact, Croatia could boast two of the best centres in the competition, taking into account the presence of 1995-born Antonija Chiabov who was terrific last summer at the U16 Championship, which means the possibility of a twin towers set-up is a strong one.