| Valeriane Ayayi will set out to prove in EuroCup Women why she is one of the most exciting prospects in French basketball|
We check out the teams competing to find a route into the second stage of the competition from Group E.
Basket Landes will be the favourites to finish in the box-seat and have some exciting elements, including teenage pair Valeriane Ayayi and Olivia Epoupa. The former grabbed the headlines when she was unexpectedly handed a spot with the national team at EuroBasket Women and the latter is an electrifying playmaking talent, who made the All-Tournament Team at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women earlier this summer.
The continuity of the young guns is complimented by the re-signing of several other team leaders, including Czech post-player Kamila Stepanova, the highly skilled and Olympic silver medallist Marion Laborde and fellow backcourt talents Carmen Guzman and Anais Le Gluher-Cano.
If Landes look like having the best chance of taking a spot for the next phase, Lotto Young Cats could well be the outsiders, living up to their moniker with an average age of less than 21. The roster is all-Belgian as usual and the lack of an additional non-European dimension may be an issue once more.
There are some new faces to look out for, although returning forward and Belgian national team player Sofie Hendrickx will probably be the leader again in terms of numbers, influence and experience. Shooting guard Jasmina Rosseel and forwards Jana Raman and Anne-Sophie Strubbe all return and are consistent performers who have also recently played with the national team.
Perhaps the arrival of Sara Leemans will prove pivotal, with the player having averaged double-digits for the last three seasons with BBC Sint-Katalijne-Waver, whilst Sien Devliegher rides into this season having had a strong final campaign at youth level, helping Belgium to promotion at the U20 European Championship Women Division B.
Wasserburg look like they will have to really do a good job in the paint against their rivals. Fortunately they've hung on to Emma Cannon, a frontcourt player who has registered some truly breathtaking numbers, having harvesting 20.7 points and 14.6 rebounds-per-game in domestic action last season.
This season she is joined by Latvian Anita Teilane, who will get to go up in an intriguing clash against her compatriot Liene Jansone, who has been signed up by Miskolc. Finnish forward Tiina Sten has already spoken of her need to find a settled position in the team as she belatedly stays at the same pro-club for a second season for the first time in her career.
|German international Anne Breitreiner is once again one of the highlight names on the TSV Wasserburg roster|
German national team star Anne Breitreiner is an ever-present danger on the wings and a real class act, she will be hoping to have a bigger season production-wise than last year. American Melissa Jeltema has been brought in to beef up the level of firepower in the backcourt and she showed her free-scoring talent in Germany when she played for Chemcats Chemnitz earlier in her career.
With Slovenian Martina Dover being brought in from Gospic Croatia, these headline acts will be complimented by homegrown talent, including Stina Barnert, Svenja Brunckhorst and Rebecca Thoresen who are all retained.
Miskolc meanwhile have not only called upon Jansone to increase their chances of success, they have also dealt a potential trump card by signing Icelandic swingman Helena Sverrisdottir from Good Angels Kosice. She will offer valuable Euroleague Women experience, a real physical presence on the wings and along with Jansone, gives the team a steely base to build upon as they re-join the competition after an eight-year absence.
American center Rebecca Tobin could prove to be a real handful for opponents on the glass and under the hoop, coming up with the goods in the Romanian League last year, whilst primary scorer Brittainey Raven comes back to the team after dropping over 20 points-per-game in the Hungarian League last year. She will also get to go up against her former team, having previously played in Wasserburg.
Reka Balint has been doing a good job in the small forward spot so far this season, whilst '97-born wing Debora Dubei is an exciting player to track for the future and viewed as the hottest prospect of her generation in Hungary.