U20 European Championship Women Preview

15 August 2012

Reigning champions Spain hope to repeat last year's success, as they have the talented trio of Queralt Casas, Mariona Ortiz and Laura Gil back on board

The U20 European Championship Women 2012 promises to be another fantastic event as the best young players in Europe descend on Hungary, with many bidding to ensure they end their respective youth careers on a high when the curtain falls in Debrecen.

Leading the charge for the podium places will be traditional powerhouse duo Spain and Russia who contested last year's final in Novi Sad.

The Spanish, who have won two gold and two silver medals during the last five years are once again set to be led by last summer's MVP Queralt Casas. And, with Laura Gil and Mariona Ortiz also returning, few would bet against them adding to their impressive medal haul.

Russia have topped the podium three times during the last six years and in EuroLeague Women Final Eight participant Ksenia Tikhonenko, they have a center who will be expected to form the basis for a strong challenge.

France will be hoping it's a case of third time lucky since after a quite stunning run of seven successive medals they have left the tournament empty handed for the last two summers.

A large percentage of their dreams will rest on forward Adja Konteh and shooting guard Helena Akmouche.

Poland finished with a terrific bronze medal last time out and have Magdalena Zietara back on board. She will be hoping for a repeat and especially after having enjoyed such a wonderful breakthrough season at club level where she excelled in EuroLeague Women with Lotos Gdynia.

Turkey is a nation where women's basketball is flourishing although they are yet to underpin their impressive recent performances at senior national team level by getting onto a youth podium.

Leading the mission of trying to improve on a bunch of fourth place finishes across various age categories is headline trio Olcay Cakir, Ozge Kavurmacioglu and Ayse Cora, three gifted players who could potentially provide the spark required.

The push for the quarter-finals is going to be intense with plenty of other creditable challengers and that shows how wide open this competition could be.

For newcomers Portugal who step out for the first time in Division A, it will inevitably be a baptism of fire although newly promoted Sweden could continue their momentum with WNBA draftee Farhiya Abdi and the powerful presence under the hoop of Amanda Zahui reason to be excited about their prospects.

And, with three teams now at risk of falling through the trap door into Division B this summer, it won't only be the fight for medals which offers excitement and drama.



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