Youth international basketball U19 World Championship Qualification round preview
The first three days of the Youth international basketball festival in Thailand came to an end without any real surprises.
The 12 nations that have qualified for the second phase of the competition were expected to qualify.
On day one the USA lost to Spain. This was probably the best thing that could have happened to the US team as the players could then concentrate on the championship and not worry about the winning streak.
Spain are one of the most experienced nations when it comes to youth basketball. But they only qualified as the fifth European team.
In France we have been lucky that we have had the opportunity to see Argentina, Australia, Canada and Mali play in the last 18 months. However the USA 1990 generation is one of the teams we are seeing for the first time.
The USA came to this tournament with five players who won the gold medal at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and are expected to qualify from Group F.
Nnemkadi ("Nneka") Ogwumike (left) is one of the five players back for the USA. She is one of the two captains from the team. Ogwumike is also one of the players that all the coaches know because of her experience in reaching the NCAA final four with Stanford.
Samantha Prahalis who attends the Ohio State University shares the captain duties with Ogwumike. Kelsey Bones, Skylar Diggens (who will be joining the University of Notre Dame - the fighting Irish) and Kelly Farris are the other players returning to the team.
The USA have some of the most talented players on display and will be amongst the favourites for the title.
However they have not had many games together and more than likely use the Qualification Round to get everything in place to be ready for the all important knock-out stage.
Ogwumike.and Diggens have already made their mark in this competition.
The USA will face Canada, Russia and Japan in the Qualification round. Two wins should be enough for them to make the quarter-finals.
The Canadian roster has a NEDA look with current members of the academy and former players occupying 11 of the 12 places.
Natalie Achonwa (right) who turns 17 in November is currently leading the scoring with 12.7 ppg. The Canadian squad also has players currently playing basketball in American colleges.
The Russian basketball federation's focus for the youth international basketball season has been the U19 World Championship team. Most of the players of the team that finished second in the 2008 U18 European Championship are back on the squad.
The Russian team tends not to give much away during the first phase of competitions and are always difficult to assess.
However they are very experienced in youth international basketball. At the moment Tatiana Petrushina (above) is leading the way with 13 points per game.
Japan is a team we are seeing for the first time. They play in a similar style to their senior team: They like to run a lot and play a high tempo. They also tend to shoot a lot from beyond the arc.
China have come along way in women’s basketball in the last few years. They have already shown how competitive they can be.
For more information about Spain and the other teams from Europe you can read our coverage of youth international basketball events from 2008 in our youth international events section.
France play in Group E and will start with a major handicap as they are bottom of the group. They will face Brazil, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.
Lithuania are missing Aurime Rinkeviciute (left) who is recovering from an injury.
Otherwise they have the bulk of the squad that won the European Championship last year.
The Czech Republic are also unchanged. With Karolina Elhotova (right) getting experience at EuroBasket they will not be an easy team to beat.
Brazil travelled to Portugal for a series of games before the championship started and concluded their preparation with a game against Russia.
They had a difficult opening game as they faced the hosts Thailand, who were an unknown team to everybody. They passed that test with flying colours.
They then defeated the Czech Republic to qualify for the next phase. However they lost a close fought match with Lithuania.
They have a balanced offensive trio of Leila Zabani, Patricia Ribeiro and Tatiane Nacimiento, which makes them one of most difficult teams on display so far to stop offensively.
For France to qualify for the knock-out stage and not have to depend on results elsewhere they must beat all three teams.
French teams are known for their defending skills but they will need to improve offensively over the next three games.
Australia and Argentina have already beaten France and Liz Camage (left) from Australia is the player of the preliminary round. However neither team is assured qualification for the next phase.
The beauty of the format for the tournament at youth international basketball level is that nothing is really decided yet and that all 12 teams still have a chance of making the quarter-final.