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EuroBasket Women 2015 - Expert Eye

24 April 2015
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2015
11. Alina Iagupova (Ukraine)
Ukrainian Alina Iagupova will switch clubs to play in Belgium next season

Fibaeurope.com's women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen gives us his latest expert analysis on the developments in the build up to EuroBasket Women 2015.

 

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER FOR IAGUPOVA

If reports coming from the excellent basketfemenin.com that Ukrainian ace Alina Iagupova has penned a deal for next year with EuroCup Women Finalists and Belgian champions Castors Braine, then this is seriously exciting news on so many levels.

While the former FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year could hardly have done more to impress when donning a national team vest during her phenomenal youth days or rapidly burgeoning senior career, her belated move to a more central European league should see her reaping the rewards.

An apparently complex situation had seemed to have resigned her to spending her days playing on the fringes of the European game and outside of the top level competitions, but a foray in EuroCup Women would be outstanding.

She remains one of the most talented players on the continent and having already been so very keen to see what she could do in Hungary and Romania, the prospect of seeing her play regularly at club level in 2015-16 is just wonderful.

This remarkable player has tore it up in her homeland and been a big star in Kazakhstan, but next year will be the acid test to see if she can settle and potentially play at the highest level.

This was exactly what she needed and should light a fire under her career - and very much a case of better late than never.

On top of this, Iagupova was a flop at Final Round two years ago if the truth be told, and everyone had expected so much more.

So, I see this positive twist of her signing in Belgium as a major boost which should see her standout in Hungary and Romania - continuing on from her stellar work during qualification.

Perhaps this time she will be less likely to force her shots and use the limited window of the tournament to impress. Now she has a deal sorted - I hope she just relaxes and shines.

Because when she is on top of her game, you really can't blink for fear of missing something destined for the highlights reel.

 

LEEDHAM BLOW HURTS BRITS BADLY

Not having Johannah Leedham didn't have a serious impact on Great Britain last summer, because they still managed to secure a third consecutive place at Final Round.

But not having her for the tournament proper, delivers a near fatal blow to the Brits' prospects of advancing past the first phase of this summer's competition.

Leedham feels that she needs to rest after a rigourous season with Tango Bourges and clear up some niggling injury problems. I can see her situation as at 27-years-old, you are a long time out of EuroLeague Women if she doesn't continue her fine upward curve in the competition.

Essentially a swingman, with a gritty defensive heart who rebounds much higher than her height, Leedham also handed out more assists per game than anyone else in France two years ago. It underlines just how much of a rounded player she is.

She is the best GB could field and they will suffer - no matter how much the other players try to step up.

Yet it has always been the underdog status and fighting spirt which has seen GB never fail in making it out of their opening round group.

8. Chantelle Handy (Great Britain)
Chantelle Handy will help Great Britain at EuroBasket Women 2015

With Chantelle Handy back, Steph Gandy on fire in the WBBL and playing some of the best basketball of her career, Rachael Vanderwal rejuvenated and both Temi Fagbenle and Azania Stewart hard to wear down in the paint, GB might not necessarily live up to the lazy look of the weakest team on paper.

After all, they have a history of defying the many doubters.

It's just doing it without Leedham means digging deeper than they ever have before.

 

DIKEOULAKOS DEMONSTRATES HIS QUALITIES

You have to hand credit to Greece play-caller George Dikeoulakos, who has guided his club team Nadezhda to the Russian Finals against UMMC Ekaterinburg with a Semi-Final success over Dynamo Kursk.

I have heard so many different opinions about Dikeoulakos while covering the women's game and I have learned that the one thing which unites most of those conversations is that he certainly knows how to get results.

He also seems to be able to organise his teams so very well and prepare meticulously - squeezing every last drop out of his players.

Those will be useful attributes this summer, since Greece will have a tough assignment to get out of Group B - although with Dikeoulakos at the helm, I wouldn't back against it.

Follow Paul on twitter @basketmedia365

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