With 2019 Women’s EuroBasket tipping off, here’s a look at the first round groups – and the path to the final.

Group A (Riga): Great Britain, Latvia, Spain, Ukraine


Coach: Chema Buceta

Star to watch: Temi Fagbenle

Perennial underdogs, often with good reason, GB’s charge against Spain last weekend has removed them from the list of unheralded outsiders. And this could be now or never for a country that has got a mix of talent, experience and solid coaching but where the threat of mass retirement and a generational shift looms large.

Yet the wing tandem of Karlie Samuelson and Jo Leedham is a menacing threat and the totem of Temi Fagbenle could be primed for her true breakout on a big international stage.

Getting the WNBA centre enough rest spells could be a key with no other bigs getting extended minutes although GB’s small ball defence has worked well. They will no longer fear Spain. Latvia and Ukraine, they see as beatable. This could be their time. Or not for a while.


Coach: Martins Zibarts

Star to watch: Digna Strautmane

Is home advantage a blessing or a curse? Riga will likely pump up the volume for Latvia in a group that might prove to be more even than at first glance. Will they buckle or flourish?

Once a wunderkind, the co-hosts will lean on veteran guard Elina Dikaioulaku, who just had a productive season in Poland, especially with Kitija Laksa and

Anete Steinberga absent through injury. Shooting wing Ieva Pulvere and stopper Kate Kreslina can be impactful with the frontcourt tandem of Kristine Vitola and Aija Putnina ready to complement Syracuse University forward Digna Strautmane in her senior championship debut.

After an 0-3 record at the World Cup last year, Latvia have had an extensive prep campaign to be ready. A nation expects.


Coach: Lucas Mondelo

Star to watch: Marta Xargay

With a 7-2 record this summer that saw opponents strangled to an average of 55 points, the reigning champions are well primed in their goal to become the first nation to successfully defend their crownsince the Soviet Union in 1991.

Under Mondelo, La Roja have twice been champions in the past three editions as well as reaching an Olympic and World Cup final, even if third at last summer’s global showpiece on their home soil of Tenerife felt like a disappointment.

Losing Alba Torrens, the 2017 EuroBasket MVP, to injury is a blow, pushing more responsibility on the veteran backcourt of Anna Cruz and Marta Xargay, as well as their naturalised big Astou Ndour. A deep bench gives them a terrific shot once again but as GB showed last week, even tough nuts can crack.


Coach: Goran Boskovic

Star to watch: Alina Iagupova

Will the great Ukraine or its mediocre sister? In Alina Iagupova, they have one of the best in the European game whose personal repertoire has carried her nation above and beyond. At times, that has allowed opponents to dare her team-mates to take their best shot. No longer.

Taisiia Udodenko was excellent in the Czech Republic two years ago and there is a young emerging core that proved itself in the qualifiers when they pushed Spain right to the wire.

The question is whether they have matured enough to make it big this time, or could they yet flame out in Round 1?

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Group B (Riga): Czech Republic, France, Montenegro, Sweden

The proven experience of France remains, even with some oldies departing and some young goodies arriving. The Czechs have also undergone a makeover although WNBA centre Kia Vaughn gives them a target to aim for. Montenegro and Sweden will likely chase third place with Amanda Zahui and the Eldebrink sisters giving the Scandics an edge.

Group C (Nis): Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey

It’s Turkey, plus three in Nis, with the former finalists a class apart in a kind draw. But they will have some fresh faces getting roles at the front and centre in an examination of their readiness.

The other trio can scrap amongst themselves. Giorgia Sottana is now the veteran head among youthful faces in what may be a tricky transitional phase for the Azzure while Hungary’s promise remains untested. This could be a time to learn, and then prosper later. As for Slovenia, they blew useful shots in 2017 and will need to have learnt lessons.

Group D (Zrenjanin): Belarus, Belgium, Russia, Serbia

Welcome to the Group of Death. Although perhaps, more on reputation. The co-hosts, winners in 2015, retain much of that same core with the likes of Sonja Petrovic and Ana Dabovic still primed but at the edges, tinkering has been made that lends an air of unpredictability for the Serbs.

Belgium’s brilliant youth programme should be studied as a textbook and it is now bearing fruit as their semi-final spot at last year’s World Cup – and the emergence of A-Listers like Emma Messeman – illustrates.

In the doldrums for several years, the Russians have re-grouped behind young centre Maria Vadeeva and fellow prodigy Raisa Musina. No pressure, but this might be two years, too soon.

Belarus arrive with its own crumbling and even with the return of the inevitable US import in the shape of Alex Bentley, this might be one summer too far for some.



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