By Luis Cristovao
|Sarah Berankova is one of five Czech players to have featured in last year's U16 European Championship Women.|
In Group C, France, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Division A newcomers England fight for the top three spots, eager to improve last year's performances.
France, bronze medalists from 2008-2010, finished in seventh spot at the 2011 U16 European Championship Women in Cagliari, Italy, with center Marie Milapi being the only player born in 1996 on the squad. Milapie, who is returning this year, was named to the All Tournament Team at the international youth tournament in Fougères in June, where France lost the final to Russia.
The French have strong competition in the group, with the Czech Republic having five players return from last year's squad. Sarah Berankova and Klara Krivankova were part of the Czech starting five in Cagliari, where the team finished 10th.
Croatia are also planning a big splash in Mikolsc. After a great comeback to Division A in 2010, crowned with the silver medal, the Croatians scraped through in 2011, as the team captured 14th place and avoided another relegation. Center Patricia Bura offers experience to a group packed with new faces that will have a valuable opportunity to grow in this tournament.
England's U16 team make their debut in Division A, having a very difficult tournament ahead. England reached the final at last year's U16 European Championship Women Division B to win promotion. Leah McDerment, starting point guard in 2011, returns to show her qualities in the competitive Division A tournament. England's aim will be to avoid relegation.