As the best FIBA Continental tournament gets underway in the Czech Republic by way of EuroBasket Women 2017, Blue Star Media has got it covered via myself in Hradec Kralove and my Basketmedia365 colleague Pierre Ploszajski based in Prague.
As the authors of the official Media Guide for the competition, we’re bringing you exclusive insight throughout the tournament [official website here] with regular questions and opinions!
If you are unsure whether to follow the competition – here are 17 reasons why you should.
— Paul Nilsen (@basketmedia365) June 13, 2017
There is also going to be some NCAA interest too.
Our first question is: Which naturalized player is the most important?
PIERRE: “I am going to go with Quanitra Hollingsworth, or Kuanitra Holingsvorth as Turkey refer to her.
“She is going to be absolutely key, since it is a big tournament for her individually and with Hollingsworth on board, Turkey can fly high. Why?
“Well, she has been offered an opportunity to be a clutch and make up for her London 2012 and her missed free-throws in the Quarter-Finals of the Olympics against Russia. It cost her adopted country a place in the Semi-Finals and so it has seemed like unfinished business for her ever since.
“Five years ago, she obviously had less experience and was still only a prospect at the elite level. She has grown into something of an unstoppable beast and notably, this is a tournament without many superstar centers. No other center is as athletic, although she does still seem to have some confidence and fouling issues.
“Curiously, had Lara Sanders been available/ fully fit, then she would not have been selected and so it feels like a destiny type thing right now.
“If her impressive season with EuroCup Women, Turkish Cup and Turkish League winners Yakin Dogu Universitesi [home to Kayla McBride and Courtney Vandersloot] is anything to go by, her presence is going to be felt.
“Turkey’s game has been structured around a dominant center in Nevriye Yilmaz for decades. Now they need Hollingsworth to become the best quality center she can be. It’s her time to shine. If she succeeds, her career is going to have a whole new dimension and at 29, she is in her prime!”
PAUL: “I am convinced that Epiphanny Prince or Epifaniya Prints as Russians prefer her, doesn’t get the exposure of other naturalized players and for me, she is the most important heading to EuroBasket Women 2017.
“I say that because having won EuroBasket Women 2011, Russia turned to Prince for their disastrous 2013 campaign when they exited as champions during the first phase. Then, they failed to get back on track by finishing sixth at the last edition when they missed the plane to the Rio Olympics.
“Yet despite these outcomes, Prince was actually one of the premier performers. And, after winning EuroLeague Women with Dynamo Kursk, she seems to have grown even more in recent times as part of the Russian set-up.
“All the talk is about the phenomenal teenager Maria Vadeeva in the frontcourt, or WNBA champion Evgenia Belyakova who is a great leader, but the combo capabilities of Prince are priceless and her creative and scoring qualities are well-known to the WNBA followers – as well as her in Europe.
“She will probably play point guard throughout and lead this very young Russian team back towards glory. They are being tipped for a top-six finish and a place at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 in Spain.
“I even think that Prince could be the player that propels them to a medal for the first time in six years and it is not out of the question they win it. She deserves success with Russia and I can’t wait to see her play.”
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