Race For All Tournament Team Heats Up

02 August 2012

U18 WOMEN

7. Olivia Epoupa (France)
The French frontcourt has been impressive but one could argue part of their effectiveness is down to point guard Olivia Epoupa, who leads the tournament in assists

By Paul Nilsen

The race to make the All Tournament Team at the U18 European Championship Women is heating up as we prepare to enter the final phase of the tournament on Friday.

There is of course still plenty of time for any player to make an even bigger impression, or for others that have so far been more discreet to make a late run with decisive performances during the last three days of action. 

Despite not topping their respective group in either the First or Second Round, Spain have arguably been the stand-out team so far.

Due to their depth however, it's difficult to highlight one dominant player on their roster.

Leticia Romero has impressed with her clinical approach to the game and partiuclarly her quick hands on defence, which have seen her lead the tournament in steals with a terrific 3.5 per game.

Another 1995-born Spanish player making her debut at this level and coming with a big reputation is Maria Arrojo.

She has shown why she is so highly rated by averaging almost 14 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.

Croatia is a team that has got better as the days went by, led by point guard Lana Packovski who is usually known for her passing ability.

This time through it's her finishing at the hoop which has caught the eye, as she is currently averaging over 65 percent from two-point range.

7. Ivana Tikvic (Croatia)
Croatia center Ivana Tikvic is the only player on any team in the Quarter-Finals to average a double-double in points and rebounds

Team-mate Ivana Tikvic has looked a class act and is also tearing it up.

Although injury ruled her out of a couple of games, the talented center is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds and, unsuprisingly, is leading her team in those two categories as well as in steals and blocks.

France have looked strong throughout, with the electrifyingly quick playmaker Olivia Epoupa dishing up a tournament-best 4.5 assists per game.

Marieme Badiane has been arguably the pick of a powerful frontcourt with ten rebounds per game although Aby Gaye has also done a great job inside too.

Serbia have been led expertly by the diminutive figure of point guard Aleksandra Stanacev who continues to make her team tick.

In addiiton to four assists per game, her dazzling display against the Slovak Republic fired Serbia into the last eight of the competition.

And, when Serbia need a big rebound or defensive play then look no further than center Dragana Stankovic.

She has been superb at blocking shots with a stunning 3.2 per game - meaning she's currently the best shot-swatter in Bucharest.

Pelin Bilgic has shown she is certainly someone who knows how to win games in crunch time and she has come up big for Turkey, although probably needs to raise her three-point shooting up a notch to truly make a surge for the All Tournament Team.

Alexandra Marchenkova has done a wonderful job for Russia with a rock solid all-round performance in just about every facet of the game.

9. Pelin Bilgic (Turkey)
Pelin Bilgic leads Turkey in scoring and is sixth overall in the tournament, with 14.5 points on average after the first six games

She has shot the ball well, came up with plenty of rebounds, steals and assists but unlike some of her other headline-making team-mates, such as Albina Razheva, hasn't allowed too many turnovers to slightly spoil her tournament.

It's a similar case with Isabella Slim of the Netherlands who has averaged 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, but is not taking good enough care of the ball.

That could cost her a place, although she is also capable of impressing even more with her sweet-looking shot.

Her Dutch team-mate Kourtney Treffers came to the Romanian capital with a big reputation although rather than catching fire from the outset, she's just slowly building momentum and showing everyone why a EuroLeague Women team came knocking on her door last summer.

Of course there are also a number of honourable mentions to those numerous players who have been standouts for their teams, but will not be playing in the quarter-finals.

Tournament-leading scorer Paulina Hersler has been a huge force for Sweden, as has Eva Lisec for Slovenia, averaging a double-double of more than 11 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Only one player in the Championship has managed five double-doubles and that is Zofia Hruscakova of the Slovak Republic - a tuly monumental effort.


 


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