The Women’s EuroBasket has always been an event for the Russian basketball community. If in the course of the season not so much attention was paid to the girls, it was during the performance of the national team that everything changed. The main factor, of course, was the result that the women’s team gave. At absolutely any tournament, the Russians were among the contenders for a medal. And in Europe, bronze was sometimes considered a failed performance.
However, times have changed rapidly. Exactly 10 years ago, our team passed French Vannes to the status of the reigning champions of the continent. After the London Games and fourth place, Boris Sokolovsky was fired and Alfredas Vainauskas was chosen to take his place. The generational change was already in full swing, but still Ilona Korstin agreed to participate. No one could have imagined that our girls would not sensationally leave the group and leave the tournament long before the decisive games.
Since then, we have not received a single medal. The increased competition forced us to accept reality in a new way, where no longer two or three teams were fighting for the trophy. For example, the Belgian team has been the favorite in recent tournaments. It was the Belgians who consistently beat the teams of Russia and Belarus at the last EuroBasket in 2021. Moreover, the latter won the match for bronze. But there is also Serbia, Spain, France, Türkiye, the Czech Republic…
The “Championship” turned to the former captain of the Russian women’s team, European champion and winner of the women’s NBA Evgenia Belyakova, to identify the five main candidates for victory in the upcoming continental championship.
The Serbian team is experiencing a generational change. In the World Championship they acted interchangeably, but the coach won the Euroleague, and two players were on her team and had a good playing time. Several players from the Serbian national team played in our championship, adding in the course of the season.
The leader had a great season in the Euroleague. The most interesting thing will be to see how he successfully performed in the strongest club tournament in the Old World and played, but young players will be able to retain the title. Or will his team be overwhelmed by a wave of generational change?
selection of spain
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Head coach Miguel Mendez showed his ability to set up a quick basketball with different teams. But at the same time, absolutely all the players are quick to chase the ball and feel like an important part of the team. Will he get it now with players already established in his clubs? Will Méndez be able to make Spain great again? At a time when the Spanish men have gone through almost all the European tournaments with a skating rink, the women’s clubs and the women’s team with their ambitions do not want to remain in the shadows at all.
France national team
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I want to say: “May they win at least once.” Year after year, the French come to the FIBA tournaments with very strong players, victories in all friendly tournaments, every time they sweep everyone in the group stage and in the playoffs, and then… the second place.
France have very strong players individually. Even the experienced Sandrine Gruda, who will turn 36 on the day of the EuroBasket final, made it to the national team. The team has losses, but even those will not affect the depth of the squad. Before the tournament, France is sixth in the world rankings, ahead of Belgium by one point.
Belgium national team
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The Belgian national team is becoming similar to the French national team: victories in groups, passing the first stages of the playoffs, losing in the semifinals. Stable, but the players and coaches of the Belgian national team are unlikely to be satisfied with this.
Emma Meesseman, who was voted the EuroLeague Most Valuable Player of the Season, did not go to the WNBA to prepare as much as possible for this EuroBasket. Her teammates played in the main clubs in Europe. The coach was also changed in advance, although the performance at the World Cup last year with this team left an unpleasant aftertaste among the fans. Let’s hope that Belgium can get out of the vicious circle and fight for victory.
The main underdogs of this championship. I played against this team at the London Olympics. I think the same principles of defense and attack were maintained: “if we don’t win, we will beat it!”.
Physically strong team, not shy to play, to put it mildly, aggressive in defense. Many talented players grew up for this championship. For some reason, it seems to me that the British will “gnaw” their way as close as possible to the medals.