|07 June 2013|
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2013
Each weekday in the lead up to the EuroBasket Women, fibaeurope.com profiles the 16 teams who will be appearing in France. This time, it's the hosts and Group C favourites, France.
|France clinched their first Olympic medal last summer, finishing second at the London Games|
Road to EuroBasket Women 2013: France finished with a bronze medal at EuroBasket Women 2011 and then bettered their medal haul with a silver last summer at the London Olympics.
Team History: The home side are bidding to land their third EuroBasket Women title, having topped the podium in both 2001 and 2009. Incredibly, they have never finished below fifth spot when they have competed at a Final Round.
Keep an Eye On: There is little doubt that the spotlight will shine brightly on reigning FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year, Celine Dumerc. Whilst she's always been touted by most as one of the best playmakers in Europe, her Olympic exploits finally gained her more widespread global recognition and respect. She showed her offensive capabilities in the British capital, having previously been labelled as more of a defensive specialist and provider for others. She is playing with a huge smile on her face these days and seems to be enjoying herself as much as at any time during her career. Sandrine Gruda is one of the classiest and smoothest frontcourt players you will ever see and she is also playing some of the best basketball of her life, having recently won EuroLeague Women with UMMC Ekaterinburg. EuroBasket Women 2013 could also be a fitting finale for long-serving guard Edwige Lawson, in what could be an emotional farewell to an illustrious career, since she will hang up her shoes when the curtain finally falls at the conclusion of the tournament.
X Factors: Some things with France are as close to being a certainty as you could possibly get - not least their ferocious capacity to throw a defensive blanket over teams and choke the life out of any opponents' offence. They have incredible quality and are also capable of wearing down other teams with their physical strength and depth. Perfectly encapsulating those elements is Emmeline Ndongue, a defensive anchor and superb warrior for Les Bleues who will put her body on the line again. However, it's not all rosy in the garden for head coach Pierre Vincent. The one big 'X Factor' they do have is whether they have enough shooting power to utilise. Without the now retired Clemence Beikes and Florence Lepron, there will be a heavy workload on the likes of Emilie Gomis to provide some scoring and it could be the quality of production from the shooting guard and small forward spots which determines whether they justify their current tag as the favourites to win the competition.
In Summary: The hosts are bidding for their third consecutive podium finish at EuroBasket Women and expectation is understandably sky high in the wake of their Olympic silver medal. They have one of the most talented and experienced frontcourts in the entire competition and the left-handed genius of Dumerc to orchestrate everything. They will of course be big favourites and especially with a partisan home support, but that can also be a burden of sorts. Still, it's tough to name many other nations who can seriously claim to have a better chance of taking gold.