Youth international basketball quarter-final day in Division A and B for U18
The change in format of youth international basketball European championships at all levels in both divisions has added a lot of suspense to the competition.
The competition goes through three distinct stages:
The first round, also known as the preliminary round, is the time where the first teams are eliminated from the competition and play in the classification round for the lower places.
In Division A with always 16 teams taking part, the participating countries having qualified after the preliminary round, play in the second phase, known as the Qualification Round, with two groups of six teams after the merger of groups from the preliminary round.
The top 4 teams from each group then qualify for the quarter-final.
In Division B, depending on the number of teams that participate, the quarter-final stage may be replaced directly by the semi-finals. This can happen as the competition at youth international basketball level should not take more than 12 days.
Youth international basketball quarter-finals from Södertälje and Eilat
The level of youth international level of basketball has gone up in Division B since its creation by FIBA Europe five years ago: The top teams in Division B will be able to compete on equal terms in Division A.
It is also clear that relegation from Division A does not immediate mean promotion to Division B the following season.Croatia have players who have played at division A level at both U16 and U18 but failed to qualify for the quarter-final.
Division B is still different to Division A as the main players from most of the teams have already made their mark.
Hungary and Greece are two teams still in the fight for promotion and have rosters of players that have played at Division A level at U16.
It is no longer possible to get through a Division B tournament with one or two good players.
However Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are the exception to the rule.
Slovenia have the very talented Nika Baric who can turn a game around. She is the main offensive threat of her team.
But the management team have looked for other options and have put together a strong supporting cast. These players when playing to their full potential are exciting to watch.
Bosnia and Herzegovina so far have relied on the offensive power of Matea Tavic and Tamara Kapor.
But they were shown against Israel that they need their back court players to become more involved.
Hungary have been very professional in their approach and have rotated their players well so they will be all fresh as only one player has averaged 25 minutes per game so far.
For Greece Angeliki Nikolopoulou has been the shining star. Her cool approach to the game has allowed Greece to get through some tough matches.
At the start of the tournament the only name from Israel was Avigiel Cohen.
But Hadar Gutin has been the player that does all the little things behind the scene that has got the team out of trouble.
Then you add the quartet of Shira Shecht, Shira Ben Barak, Mayan Levy and Eloisa Katz. They are all exciting to watch.
Finland have a very good defensive team. They started slowly but their coach Lars Ekström has managed to find a solution for all situations. Finland have one of the best productions from the bench and are one of the most complimentary teams in Eilat.
Germany have been hot and cold in the first two rounds. Yet Alexandra Maerz, their head coach, knows this generation of players well.
While Sonja Greinacher is taking all the attention, the supporting cast of Finja Schaake, Svenja Brunckhorst and Sarah-Marie Frankenberger are players for big occasions.
Portugal are one of the quickest teams still left in the title race. They have a core number of players that have played for the country for a number of years. Filipa Bernardeco, the three-point queen, adds a new dimension to the game.
Youth international basketball quarter-final from Södertälje
France and Spain have dominated the first two phases of the competition and have restricted the time of play for key players such Allison Verneray for France and the Spanish duo of Leonor Rodriguez and Vega Gimeno.
The two teams are favourites to qualify for the final but still need to get through the knock-out stage.
Here is a list of players from the other teams remaining in the competition:
Latvia are back in the top fight and have remained competitive because of the work of Sabine Niedola. She is the powerhouse and brings players into the game. If they can get past France, then who knows for the rest of the competition.
Serbia is another nation that has been hot and cold so far. However with players such as Sara Krnjic and Tina Jovanovic they are dangerous on the fast break.
The Czech Republic are a tidy team that have not shown their best of Alena Hanusová. But they also have a big-time player Karolina Elhotova who played at the EuroBasket Women 2009 for the senior women’s team.
Just mention the name Ukraine and everybody talks about Olesia Malashenko. But she has been outscored by Ol'Ha Maznichenko. The Ukraine have had a roller coaster preparation and had to dig deep to qualify for the last 8.
Lithuania have not found the form that won them the title last year. However Greta Sniokaite is doing a great job in leading the team.
Sweden are hosting the youth basketball event in Södertälje. They have home support and some of the most exciting players in the competition with Cleopatra Forsman-Goga and Farhiya Abdi. Add the clutch shooting from Frida Fogdemark you are sure to have a firework when Sweden play.
Youth international basketball news from Division A