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Author Topic: ¶ Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Del Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres  (Read 392962 times)
BGA Sandra Mirsov
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« Reply #45 on: Oct 06, 2013, 12:14:05 AM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Cuba continues surprise outcome trend of 2013

Even though Cuba have a relatively good heritage within the women's game, the fact they reached the top of the poidum at the FIBA American Championship for Women was still an upset of sorts.

For 2013 still revels in upsets, both in the men and women's international game, and it's something we should really cherish.

And with the FIBA Asia Championship for Women still to come, maybe this calendar year isn't quite done just yet with surprises!

I am sure most of us like an underdog in any tournament and whilst such a description is perhaps stretching it a little bit with specific regard to the Cubans, it was still a nice story for the women's game to see them grab gold and for the outstanding Yamara Amargo to be crowned MVP in Xalapa, Mexico.

I say outstanding because she really is such a force and influence on the team and proved a nightmare to guard because of her size and strength inside and her sweet shooting touch. That allowed her to regularly drift to the perimeter and knock down triples with unerring accuracy.

Interestingly and a tad ironically, it was the absence of Amargo in the decisive game which spoke volumes about Cuba.

She didn't play in the monumental Semi-Final against Brazil which sealed their place at the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women and ensured we will have a wonderful bit of Cuban flavour to the proceedings in Turkey next year.

Despite being without their marquee player, the rest of the team showed quite unanimously they are no 'one-woman' show.

Having squandered a huge lead against the tournament co-favourites, it looked like Brazil would complete the comeback and they were riding on the crest of a wave into crunch time. Lesser teams than Cuba would have crumbled.

But, showcasing tremendous mental strength, the Cuban team responded to the answer posed by Brazil and rejoiced as they took their place for Turkey 2014.

That positive mental attitude and hard-nosed approach was also evident during the Final. It would have been easy for Cuba to have patted themselves on the back and settled for silver.

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Not a bit of it.


Marlen Cepeda plus veteran duo Oyanaisy Gelis and Leidys Oquendo are also very important too for Cuba and I look forward to seeing this quintet at the Worlds.Here, the player of Cuba Oyanaisy Gelis (#7) drives the ball brand of American Candice Wiggins (#5). Photograph: EFE
Photograph: kint.com



They peppered holes in the previously impregnable Canadian defense to great effect and with Amargo back on board and the excellent Clenia Noblet (who I thought was very, very unfortunate not to get a slot in the All-Tournament Team), they completed not exactly a fairytale, but a mild shock for sure.

Marlen Cepeda plus veteran duo Oyanaisy Gelis and Leidys Oquendo were also very important too and I look forward to seeing this quintet at the Worlds.

Canada may have missed out on gold, but the silver lining for them was that they achieved their main objective and now go into their next tournament off the back of a loss and with an ever-so-slightly bitter taste in their mouths.

Perhaps that won't necessarily be a bad thing when they hit the floor in Istanbul or Ankara.

One slight off-night across six games is nothing to worry about and Cuba did have the extra motivation of avenging their loss earlier in the competition.

Overall, Lisa Thomaidis can be very satisfied with her first major tournament and a silver is better than the bronze which has been hung around Canadian necks in recent times.

Kim Gaucher did a good job and made the All-Tournament Team, 17-year-old playmaker Kia Nurse didn't look out of place at all and both Tamara Tatham and Natalie Achonwa enhanced their reputations with some powerful performances - especially the latter, who is still only 20 years old by the way.

Finally, Brazil were left breathing a huge sigh of relief and I was thrilled for them in making it to the World because not doing so simply didn't even bare thinking about - or at least in the context of the 2016 Olympics.

To head to Rio with nothing but another FIBA Americas Championship for Women tournament under their belts would have been a near-disaster and under-cooking this young team horribly.


Now they can get that precious global tournament experience they need and the master-plan ahead of hosting the Games in three years remains safely on track - even if it was almost derailed.

Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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WBC Deborah Volger
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« Reply #44 on: Jun 16, 2013, 01:00:37 AM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Rising stars looking to impress at EuroBasket Women

There have been many young players over past decades who have announced their arrival on the big stage by debuting at the elite level at EuroBasket Women

With the action at EuroBasket Women 2013 set to unfold in France this weekend, a new batch of young hopefuls are all looking to shine in what will be their first major tournament at senior level. Some of those who you might want to look out for include:

Queralt Casas (Spain) has always shown a winner's mentality, clinching a medal in every one of her youth championships, including gold last summer.

She enjoyed an impressive debut season in EuroLeague Women with Rivas Ecopolis with a string of eye-catching displays. She's absolutely electric, has amazingly quick hands and can come off the bench to grab key steals and finish off plays in transition.

Team-mate Laura Gil is the most decorated female Spanish player in history due to her unprecedented medal haul at youth level which culminated in gold alongside Casas at the 2012 U20 European Championship. She's a very mobile and smart center who executes well and also finishes well at the hoop.

Ieva Krastina (Latvia) had the second best three-point percentage in the Qualification Round, but is more than just an outside threat. She's really improved the effectiveness of her passing which can exploit any additional defensive attention given in France. Indeed if she handles the ball more in the future, the sky could be the limit for her as a combo guard.

Fellow Latvian Anete Steinberga is a University of Texas El-Paso (UTEP) graduate who was one of only four players in school history to amass over 1,000 points, win championships, earn All-Conference USA honours and even establish a school record for a staggering 23 consecutive double-digit points hauls. She will be hoping to transfer her post moves, rebounding prowess and ability to run the floor.

Tereza Vyoralova (Czech Republic) has been given a quicker than expected route to senior duty with the likes of veteran legends Hana Horakova and Eva Viteckova missing. With scoring power on the wing, she is expected to be a long term successor.

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The guard hails from a basketball family with her dad Vladimir Vyoral, having won a silver medal for Czechoslovakia at the European Championship in 1985.


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Photograph from Baloncesto AS



You can't ignore the rapid development of the small forward Valeriane Ayayi (France) who has had a spectacular 12 months, including making history when she won a first gold for France at last year's U18 European Championship Women. She then recorded a great first season in the LFB with Basket Landes, including a brilliant rookie campaign in EuroCup Women. She will lead her country at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women later this summer.

Fellow Les Bleues forward Diandra Tchatchouang will celebrate her 22nd birthday on the eve of EuroBasket Women and the best present is being on the roster after missing out on Olympic action. Powerful and mobile in equal measure, she's now delivering at a level which she hinted at reaching during a glittering youth career which harvested plenty of personal accolades. She gained numerous plaudits in the NCAA with Maryland and is a WNBA draftee.

After a breakthrough summer as starting playmaker during qualification, Inesa Visgaudaite (Lithuania) moved to France with Toulouse. Whilst she found points hard to come by during her first season in the LFB, she has much more in her locker, including her defensive capabilities and organisational skills. Her tough apprenticeship in France which should make her tougher mentally for when she returns in a national team jersey.

Sara Krnjic (Serbia) has made a big splash during her club career and is hoping to do the same with the Serbian national team. Krnjic has established herself as one of the rising stars in EuroLeague Women with some excellent displays for both Pecs and Sopron. Rarely prolific but always good value, she's an adept finisher around the basket and has some effective post moves which cause her defenders problems. She's good on the glass too.

Also looking to impress for Serbia is Ana Dabovic. A natural scorer, she often explodes in a big way during intense purple patches. She is great in the open floor, adept at slicing to the hoop taking opponents off the dribble and generally being creative in her shot selection. She has so much firepower and never fails to impress when checking her out.


Then in addition to those above, there are others also looking to make a splash on this stage for the first time – notably the entire Swedish team, who should be fun to watch.

Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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WBC Deborah Volger
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« Reply #43 on: May 19, 2013, 07:07:52 PM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Dedication of Koehn goes viral

As I ponder heading back into coaching at junior level later this year, it struck me that in 2013, a picture still tells a thousand words; but a social media clip does a whole lot more and therefore this will form an essential part of any coaching I may undertake.

In the old days, it was about taking home the playbook, but nowadays, the sheer resource at the fingertips of all aspiring women ballers is immense.

Not only do they have access to the traditional learning material now online, but also snippets of inspirational best practice which show what kind of dedication may be required to 'make it'.

Yes, an indicator of the level of devotion required, straight to a young players' cell phone.

So, it was with absolute glee, that I came across the story and associated video (is it still okay to use the term video?) of Laurie Koehn last week on various websites.

Who could have thought that a player making three-pointers in practice, over and over and over again could attract a staggering 359,000 views?

Well if you take the time to check it out, you will see why it is worth watching, as Koehn makes an eye-bulging and almost incomprehensible 132 of 135 three-pointers in just five minutes - albeit from the shorter college perimeter, using two balls and an excellent rebounder.

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In stark contrast to myself, a friend of mine was left inexplicably underwhelmed by the clip, miserably mumbling something about games being won in the arena and during actual games.



I was shocked by his attitude. Surely games are won on the practice court when the hard yards are undertaken? And added to this, it is also the competitiveness of players, the heart and desire which allows them to reach the top.

I also think it's about players doing one particular thing excellently and then working on other aspects of their game. With Koehn (who has played at the elite level on both sides of the Atlantic in the WNBA and EuroLeague Women) she has explained that her limited athleticism dictated shooting as her main forte.

The desire part comes from wanting to be the best and taking on challenges. The detail behind the video is apparently that 10 years ago whilst at Kansas, she would drive to the gym as dawn broke every single morning, not just to shoot around, but to take numerous intense shooting drills of 100 shots or more.

Apparently the actual video and challenge arose out of Kansas coach Deb Patterson showing her another player making 118 triples, a landmark she passed after taking up the challenge - before doing what she does in the clip.

She has also been quoted as saying she once made 127 in a row without missing and it's not surprising, since she holds the NCAA record for 392 college career scores from downtown.

On a side note, it mirrored an intriguing interview I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago with Olympic gold medal winning British swimmer Rebecca Adlington. She explained about having to get up at 4.45am from the age of around 11, to get into the swimming pool before school, head to the classroom for the rest of the day, get back into the pool again after school, get taken home, do her homework and go straight to bed.

Hearing these types of sacrifices never fails to astound, but it was noticeable that both Koehn and Adlington spoke of their love and obsession for what they do. And, Adlington insisted she only had a modicum of natural talent, but just worked incessantly to make the most out of it. Perhaps that is debatable, but hard work and practice was what she talked about.


If I do go on to pick up the coaching board again, the Koehn clip will be one I will pass on to some of my own young players - along with that excellent radio interview with a certain double Olympic gold medal winning swimmer.

Paul Nilsen from FIBA


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BGA Sandra Mirsov
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« Reply #42 on: May 05, 2013, 08:50:35 PM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Who will France turn to when Celine Dumerc hangs up her basketball shoes?

They say that one of the essential ingredients of success for any successful organisation is succession planning.
Yes, having the vision and gumption to think about the future as early as possible and who might take up the reins of essential roles further down the line.

For a commercial business or indeed a basketball club, it's not too much of an issue and can be easily remedied by scouring the market for both talent and value for money. It's actually linked more closely to the free flowing of resources, perhaps governed by more loose eligibility restrictions.<

It is however a completely different prospect altogether for national teams. The pool of successors who can potentially take the throne of those currently revelling in the limelight, can often be limited. So many times a thriving national team falls from grace as a glittering array of veterans step down and replacement are not up to the same kind of standard.

The best nations of course (those most consistently challenging for medals at major tournaments) are so often the ones that have a healthy youth structure and junior national team programmes. Although no guarantee, they are generally tangible and effective mitigation against the risk of the national team suffering a dreaded 'generation gap' by acting as conveyor belts for precious talent.

Therefore you could say, succession planning is in theory at least, effective. Scan back over the years and you will have more hard evidence of this.

French playmaker Celine Dumerc is the reigning FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year. She was the darling of the 2012 London Games, led injury-ravaged Bourges to an incredible third place at the recent EuroLeague Women Final Eight as well as the French Championship.

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Now she is about to carry a considerable chunk of the hosts' gold medal hopes at the forthcoming Eurobasket Women.

I was a little surprised neither were called by French head coach Pierre Vincent, in the photo from FIBA Europe with Celine Dumerc, for the pre-EuroBasket Women preparation camp, although I guess if he thinks they are not yet likely to reach the final 12, they are better off focusing on the U20 European Championship Women and in the case of Epoupa, the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women too. Photograph by FIBA Europe
Photograph from FIBA Europe


She is also gaining wider recognition both in French sporting circles and also in the mainstream media. She is riding the crest of a wave and it's little wonder I have barely seen a player spend her time on the floor with such a broad and wonderful smile on her face.

With veteran national team guard Edwige Lawson retiring after this summer and with Dumerc turning 31 years old this year, succession planning at the point guard spot just became a lot more of an issue for France. But they will have had an eye on this for some time.

Replacing Dumerc in the medium term is probably an impossible task. But France do have some reason to be hopeful that they have good players who can help the national team to continue challenge at the elite level in the longer term via 1993-born Romane Bernies and 1994-born Olivia Epoupa.

The teenage duo have both made huge strides over the past 12 months and it means that a transition phase in the next two-three years is very likely and it will be great to watch.

I was a little surprised neither were called by French head coach Pierre Vincent for the pre-EuroBasket Women preparation camp, although I guess if he thinks they are not yet likely to reach the final 12, they are better off focusing on the U20 European Championship Women and in the case of Epoupa, the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women too.
Bernies has exploded to prominence this year with some excellent performances for Bourges on the highest stage possible. She has reaped the rewards of going up against Dumerc in practice every day and has shown the confidence and poise to make an impact in games. She made some plays to help Bourges reach the Final Eight and then at the event itself, scored in double-digits to help them get onto the podium.

Dumerc (the master) recently acknowledged the progress of her 'pupil' after the event, explaining how she has a huge future in the game. High praise indeed from one of the two people best placed to assess the way Bernies is developing.

The other person is of course Bourges coach Valerie Garnier, who handed Bernies her most minutes of the season in Ekaterinburg during the decisive third-place game. That in itself, highlights the trust and belief she has in the rapidly maturing Bernies, who must be the envy of her young peers everywhere - being able to learn from the best every single day.

"She is always in front of Celine (Dumerc) in practice guarding her," smiled Garnier.

"She loves to practice and also loves to work hard.

"I think she really wants to stay with Bourges because she knows that she will progress better playing with Celine."

Meanwhile the electric Epoupa, who was crowned MVP at last summer's U18 European Championship Women, has completed a hugely encouraging season with Basket Landes.

She also has the capacity to reach the very top and it's true that the most frightening thing is that in reality, both Bernies and Epoupa have an entire decade before they will potentially reach their peak as playmakers.

"It's very difficult to become a top point guard, because I think this sometimes does not truly happen for players until they are 27 or 28 years old," Garnier pointed out.

"They have to continue their journey to this stage by learning and working.

"They can't take any time to even think they are good players at this stage.

The coach added: "Olivia and Romane only become good players and good playmakers, when they can make plays over and over for many seasons and they must remember this at all times.

"But, yes, they both have very big potential."

With the reality that they might not make the step up to the senior team for a few years, France will hope Dumerc plays a little longer yet and there could be a greater role for the likes of Anael Lardy for example, in the interim.

So, whilst I am going to revel in seeing Dumerc and Les Bleues in action this summer, I am going to continue paying particular attention to her possible successors. Not that either should be seen as actual direct replacements of course.

It will also be fun to see if anyone else comes up on the rails and also makes a bid to pull the strings for France in say the next three-five years.

Although importantly, this isn't only about skills, production and the ability to both execute and control tempo.

It's that all important leadership quality too.


Something which isn’t so easy to find in all young and talented players - even with relatively effective succession planning.

Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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« Reply #41 on: Apr 20, 2013, 09:51:45 PM »

Women Basketball Worldwide Stories & Free Comments • Baloncesto Femenino Universal & Comentarios Libres

Another WNBA draft with fascinating international selections

There weren’t too many surprises in the headlines of this years’ WNBA draft, but once again the choice of non-American ‘international’ draftees was absolutely fascinating as is often the case.

And, my initial reaction is that five very interesting players, have been chosen and should be capable of grabbing court time in the future.

Kayla Alexander, Canada (San Antonio Silver Stars)

There was only one international player selected in the first round of the draft and it was always going to be Canadian Kayla Alexander, after the centre impressed with a string of personal accolades and huge performances with Syracuse where she finished as the all-time leading scorer. She also held record for most blocks, field goals made, free-throws and even games played.

Inspiring close to 100 wins during her time with the Orange, she was a no-brainer. She was picked eighth by San Antonio Silver Stars which meant she did miss out on the possibility of being the highest drafted Canadian in WNBA history, but she won’t mind, since she can be confident her offensive rebounding skills, size and wingspan will mean she is able to carve out a fruitful WNBA career during coming years.

Emma Meesseman, Belgium (Washington Mystics)

The former FIBA Europe Young Women’s Player of the Year was almost a certainty to be picked up along with Alexander, since she was rated by most as being the best Euro prospect.

She is a wonderful player in so many aspects and that is why she was rather cutely snapped up on a four year deal by four-time EuroLeague Women champions Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje last summer and then promptly loaned to Villeneuve d’Ascq in the French League for two seasons.

She was selected in the second round in nineteenth spot by the Mystics and Mike Thibault, who of course chose another frontcourt international player in last year’s draft, when selecting African prospect Astan Dabo with Connecticut. She remains a long-term project, with Meesseman arguably more polished at this stage.

The Belgian may actually pitch up in DC this summer since the national team are not competing at EuroBasket Women - although new head coach Dan Goethals will be keen to have his marquee player involved in the programme.

Meesseman suffered a broken wrist at the start of the season, but the center produced some really nice numbers and number of impressive double digit scores in what is a high level French League.

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She is also known for her great attitude, temperament as well as her super skills and she is just the kind of player and person you really want to see succeed and reach the very top.

There was only one international player selected in the first round of the draft and it was always going to be Canadian Kayla Alexander, after the centre impressed with a string of personal accolades and huge performances with Syracuse where she finished as the all-time leading scorer. She also held record for most blocks, field goals made, free-throws and even games played.
Photograph The Barrie Examiner


Diandra Tchatchouang, France (San Antonio Silver Stars)

This was arguably a choice straight out of leftfield and the one real eyebrow raiser as San Antonio Silver Stars opted for her in the second round as the 20th pick. Not because the French forward doesn’t have the talent to one day step out Stateside, but because I think basically, nobody saw it coming.

The 21 year old was a little off the grid, perhaps because she didn’t complete her final two years at Maryland and opted to return home, where she has just completed her most productive and impressive pro-season with Perpignan, having previously struggled for opportunities in 2011-12 with Montpellier.

She is powerful, mobile and has a decent shooting touch. She's also finally finding her feet in the French League and delivering against the enormous potential of a glittering youth career.

She was on the reserve list for the London Olympics last summer but just didn’t make it and is pushing to squeeze into the French roster for the Eurobasket Women this summer in her homeland and it will be a close call. The French are blessed with plenty of frontcourt options, but Tchatchouang may finally get the nod.

Olcay Cakir, Turkey (New York Liberty)

I first saw Cakir as a 16 year old at the U16 European Championships for Women in Naples during 2009. I remember it vividly and was impressed from the moment I clapped eyes on her. She has went on to win what was her nations’ first ever youth medal last summer at the U20 European Championship and has even played in a EuroLeague Women Final Eight semi-final with Fenerbahce. And, perhaps it was with a recommendation from Cappie Pondexter that the New York Liberty opted for her in in the third round as the 27th pick.

No doubt going up against Cakir in practice every day would persuade Pondexter to add credence to her potential.

Although still a teenager for a couple more months, she’s a long-term prospect but has plenty of skills to succeed. I really like her, she has a big heart, is perpetual motion when she is on the floor and can take it to the hoop impressively. If she can work on her outside shot, then she can be a big time player.

The biggest challenge if she does progress as hoped, will be managing to persuade her to turn her back on her country for a whole summer. A proud nation and one now making sizeable waves in women's basketball at the elite level, I can’t see many Turkish players withdrawing from winning medals at EuroBasket Women, the FIBA World Championship Women (which they host next year) or an Olympics. Also, it was interesting that Cakir was drafted and fellow Turkish prospect Tugce Canitez wasn’t.

Alina Iagupova, Ukraine (Los Angeles Sparks)

There’s a slight irony that of all the international players selected, the one which fills me with most excitement and the player who I genuinely feel could step into the WNBA this summer and actually make an incredible splash was the one lowest on the list. Chosen in 35th position in the third round by the Sparks, Iagupova is a phenomenon.

It may seem odd to say this since she hasn’t even played in an elite club competition such as EuroLeague Women and therefore lacks experience, but I have probably never seen a more talented player at U20 level or below in Europe during recent years.

She is an immense physical specimen, powerful and explosive when going to the hoop, rebounds really well, has an eye for a pass and is an awesome shooter. She has it all and you can see she loves the game - even playing dead rubber matches like it was a WNBA or EuroLeague Women Final Eight championship game.

I love her and it is an absolute travesty she is still playing in the domestic league in Ukraine because she deserves to be competing at the elite level. And, that could probably benefit both her an their national team, for whom she dominates in most categories.


She will lead Ukraine at EuroBasket Women this summer and Spaks fans need to take a close look. If they do, I am sure they will get excited.

Paul Nilsen from FIBA



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