EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
By Paul Nilsen
|Two post players that stand out so far: Sandrine Gruda and Yelena Leuchanka|
After two rounds in the books of EuroBasket Women 2013, Paul Nilsen looks at the players most likely to appear in the All Tournament Team on Sunday.
France, Turkey and Spain are the teams most heavily tipped to finish with medals hanging around their necks and they have plenty of contenders to potentially take a place in the All Tournament Team on Sunday.
The hosts have been propelled by their superior frontcourt presence, with the contrast between the silky shooting touch of Sandrine Gruda and the power in the paint of Isabelle Yacoubou. Big fan-favourite Yacoubou leads Les Bleues in both points and rebounds, with 12.2 and 6.7 per game - as well as being the most deadly finisher in the competition at the basket with a stunning 70.7 field goal percentage. Gruda isn't far behind, although both will probably have to improve their free-throw shooting down the tournament stretch, to help take gold.
Sancho Lyttle has certainly been the standout performer for Spain, particularly defensively. She has also proven a real handful for her defenders, scoring 16.8 points per game and also displaying a thirst for rebounds with 11 per game. Also impressing has been Alba Torrens, who looks to be back near her athletic best, whilst Silvia Dominguez has been her usual unflappable self, effortlessly making the game look so beautifully simple.
Turkey have five wins from six games but haven't had any true standout player - yet. Their guards have generally impressed most, with Isil Alben and Tugba Palazoglu generally starting games and Birsel Vardarli coming off the bench. Vardarli has dished up 4.5 assists per game which is the second best in the tournament and is shooting 50% from the three point line.
Italy and Sweden are the two teams from the top half of the draw who have reached the last eight of the competition to the surprise of many. Both are similar in that rather than marquee players, they also rely on a very strong team ethic.
For the Azzurre, it has also been mainly the guards who have done a particularly fine job. The
|Has led Italy to success: Giorgia Sottana|
experience, creativity and scoring ability of Giorgia Sottana has been in evidence as expected, with 14.7 points per game, although Final Round debutantes Giulia Gatti and Francesca Dotto have also caught the eye in a big way. Gatti is shooting 50% due to her impeccable decision-making and shot selection, whilst both have been superb defensively and never given their opponents a moment of peace.
Sweden have been similarly bonded by their unwavering togetherness and also tend to do things as a team rather than individuals - although Frida and Elin Eldebrink have both done super jobs in the backcourt. Frida has been the ever-present three-point threat, having made 14 of 28 from behind the arc and Elin has been rock solid. She leads the team in assists with 3.2 per game and continues doing the hard work on the glass, pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game.
Serbia may have had a shaky start, but are really rolling now and if this continues, Jelena Milovanovic and Ana Dabovic could be the first Serbians in the queue to make an All Tournament Team. Whilst they will want to improve their three-point shooting between now and the weekend, head coach Marina Maljkovic is always looking to get the ball into the hands of the duo in crunch time which speaks volumes.
|Has been the spark plug for the Czechs so far: Veronika Bortelová|
Whilst all eyes were expected to be on Belarus Player of the Year Anastasiya Verameyenka, it has been fellow center Yelena Leuchanka who has shown she still has what it takes at the top level. The 30-year-old is almost averaging a tournament double-double with 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Katsiaryna Snystsina was always pinpointed as an ‘X-Factor' for Belarus and her all-action performances have certainly given her team a real boost.
Czech Republic have had a roller-coaster tournament with several key contributions from players including center Petra Kulichova who is harvesting 7.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game and is the only Czech player to be shooting over 50%. Michaela Zrustova has also shone brightly with her three-point shooting, dropping 47.8 of her attempts from long-range, whilst the leadership of Veronika Bortelova has been imperative.
There is of course still plenty of time for other contenders to emerge and come up on the rails, especially now podium places and spots at the FIBA World Championship for Women next year are well and truly on the line.