We take a look at the Euroleague Women prospects of the French challengers who return to the competition after a one year absence.
|Gunta Basko-Melnbarde arrives via Nantes Reze and brings vital experience and leadership to the table|
Significant summer departures: The retired (and now General Manager) Edwige Lawson-Wade, free-scoring French national team guard Emilie Gomis, Croatian leader Ana Lelas, American forward Kristen Mann and fellow frontcourt colleague Ana Cata-Chitiga.
Roster review: There has been a significant changing of the guard at Montpellier since last season,with a number of new arrivals on the scene. Latvian vet Gunta Basko-Melnbarde needs little introduction and will bring vital experience, Ingrid Tanqueray brings a big three-point threat with the 25-year-old having had previous court time in the tournament with Mondeville and Villeneuve. One of the most exciting arrivals is Helena Ciak, a center who has exploded onto the scene in the last couple of seasons and is expected to succeed Emmeline Ndongue in the five spot for Les Bleues. Meanwhile Fleur Devillers helped France take silver at the U18 European Championship Women during the summer and is an exciting prospect. The most burden is likely to be placed on American star Shameka Christon, who will provide a big scoring threat from the wings. The biggest signing of the off-season was however the retention of French League MVP Geraldine Robert who was absolutely superb last year. She is re-joined by EuroBasket Women silver medallist Gaelle Skrela, the ever reliable Fatimatou Sacko and Virginie Bremont.
|Will again be challenging the veterans hard in practice to secure playing time: Lidija Turcinovic|
Headline writer: Robert is likely to provide the main thrust of any play-off challenge by the French side and will be the first in queue to write a headline as previous performances have demonstrated - especially last season. She was stunning domestically and also in EuroCup Women, finishing with an astonishing 67.5% shooting display from the field. She may find it tougher this time around, but a former EuroLeague Women All-Star, the 33-year-old power forward is still at the top of her game and a great athlete to watch when going to work.
Sliding onto the radar: Lidija Turcinovic is one of the most interesting players of her generation in Europe and recently helped France take silver at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. She is a guard who doesn't stand out in terms of numbers, but her tough as nails approach to every aspect of the game, means she is often given good minutes because she looks after the intangibles. If the teenager can mature in terms of her shot selection and find a tad more efficiency, then maybe she can slide onto the radar this season.
Scanning the schedule: During the first five games on the calendar, BLMA arguably have their best two opportunities of road wins with trips to Brno and Sopron, which, combined with a home game against Rivas Ecopolis, gives them a big chance of a strong start. They will also have difficult assignments against Nadezhda and group favourites Fenerbahce.
In just ten words: Competitive, energetic and in best group to reach play-offs.