Young Stepanova Following Big Foot Prints

02 July 2009

Sharing the last name of the most famous player in Russian women's basketball might lead one to think that U18 star Yulia Stepanova's idol is the senior team's big center, Maria.

But Maria Stepanova, Yulia says, plays second fiddle to another Russian who recently proved at the EuroBasket Women that she is among the best players in the world.

"I like Svetlana Abrosimova," Yulia said to FIBA Europe after her team thrashed Slovakia on the opening day of the U18 European Championship for Women.

"She does so many things to help the team win and it's great to watch her play."

Yulia does share some similarities with Maria, however.

"We both started to play our careers at the same club, Spartak St. Petersburg," she said. "And we both had the same coach there."

They are also both centers.

For the record, Abrosimova also hails from St Petersburg.

Yulia, who had 10 points and three rebounds in her team's 82-57 triumph over Slovakia, says the experience of playing at the U16 European Championship last year in Katowice helped her build a lot of confidence.

Russia finished ninth in that tournament and the 17-year-old center averaged 12.1 points in eight games.

"It's good to have that experience going into this tournament," she said.

"It gives you more confidence and you know what is expected."

The Spartak St. Petersburg center has high expectations in Sodertalje.

"We have one aim and that is to be the champions," she said.

"Russia came close to winning this tournament last year and I believe that this time, we can go all the way.

"As long as we stick to playing good defense which will help our offense."


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