Women’s Euro Basket 2021 preview

Tomorrow a.k.a June 17th will mark the beginning of the Women’s Euro Basket 2021 that will be held both in France and Spain. Such as many other sports, Eurobasket 2021 marks the return of international tournaments that were sadly cancelled or postponed because of the pandemic. Two years after the last Euro Basket, the best of Women’s European basketball is back with one objective : defeat the Spanish team, winner of the two previous tournaments. Everything you need to know about this Women’s Euro Basket 2021 is here, enjoy the read !

When and where ?

The tournament will start on June 17th with the opening game Sweden VS. Slovakia at 12 p.m. and will end on June 27 at 9 p.m. with the final. Even though we’re currently going through a weird period you can still travel across through Europe and attend the games both in Valencia (Spain) and Strasbourg (France). Regarding the tickets you can either buy them on the FIBA website or buy them on the different teams’ online ticket shop. If you live outside of Europe you will probably not be able to attend the games however you can still watch them.

You can either check if your local/national sport channel broadcast the tournament or you can easily access the entire tournament buy watching it on the official FIBA streaming platform which offers you the entire tournament for approximately 9$ !

Any other updates, news and informations can be find on the official FIBA website.

Who’s going to be on top ?

Obviously you may not want to watch every game, only your national team’s games. But if your country isn’t taking part to the tournament or you want to watch some good basketball in adition to your team’s games here are a few teams you should watch closely : 4 contenders to the title and 2 outsiders who may create a surprise.

Title contenders :

  • France : with a second place at the four last tournaments, the French team will start this tournament with one objective : at least a podium if not the win. With players such as Marine Johannes, Sandrine Gruda and a surprising but experimented young roster, France will be for sure, one of the team to beat next week. However the French team will need to be careful with as they are part of a tricky group D, facing two potential traps : Russia and Czech Republic.
  • Belgium : surely a welcome and surprising contender at first seeing. However don’t sleep on the Belgian Cats ! With a highly competitive roster led by 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman and Indiana Fever guard Julie Allemand, Belgium will be one of the toughest team to beat. With only a third place at the 2017 tournament, Belgium is still looking to add its name to the winners list. With a mostly weak Group C (except Slovenia who may be a potential trap), Belgium should easily access the quarter-finals.
  • Spain : the team everyone wants to beat, no more no less. Winner of three of the last 4 tournaments, Spain will once again be a title contender. Led by experimented 31 years old Alba Torrens and with probably one of the most solid roster of the tournament, the Spanish team is looking for another win this summer. Everyone who’s looking for a win will probably have to go through this Spanish team. Moreover, with probably the weakest group of the tournament (Group A), Spain should easily access the next round.
  • Serbia : the team everyone will have to watch closely. With a win 2015 and a third place in 2019, Serbia is looking to add another win to its list. Just like Spain, Serbia probably have the most solid team of the tournament. No WNBA superstars, but a roster full of players who proved their skills in Europe. Watch Serbia closely, because this might be the toughest team to beat among the four contenders and no one wants to face Serbia before the semi-finals.

Outsiders :

  • Slovenia : One of the two team who may be a trap for the contenders. Despite a less solid and competitive roster than the contenders mentionned earlier, Slovenia has some good players who can create a surprise while facing one of the four contenders. Led by their young but promising player Zala Friskovec (we’ll talk about her later), Slovenia will first have to get out of a Group C that may represent a threat for them (an easy group from Belgium’s point of view but surely hits different from Slovenia’s point of view) if they want to have any chance of finishing this tournament on the podium.
  • Italy : another team who can be a surprise this summer. With an actually pretty young roster (averaging 25 years old) led by their star Cecilia Zandalasini, Italy, such as Slovenia, is a team who may represent a trap for the four contenders. Member of a Group B which is definitely less tricky than Slovenia’s Group C, Italy should access the quarter-finals without any issues.

10 players to keep an eye on

You know about the teams you’ll need to watch closely in June so let’s talk about the players. Here is a list of ten players : five stars who will play an important role and five who might be a surprise. Let’s start by the stars !

  • Sandrine Gruda : the 33 years old French center (and all-time leading scorer of the French team) will be one of the most important piece of team France during the tournament. Averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds in 2020, skilled and experimented, Gruda will be a strong opponent for everyone facing her in the paint. Alongside Marine Johannes and Gaby Williams, Gruda will be the center piece of France’s offensive plans but also an important element of France’s defense.
  • Emma Meesseman : probably one of the greatest player taking part in this tournament. Averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds in her 2020 WNBA season and 11 points and 5 rebounds in her 2020 Euroleague season, Emma Meesseman represents Belgium’s center piece. Alongside Julie Allemand and Ann Wauters, she will be part of a powerful offensive trio who may lead Belgium to the victory.
  • Alba Torrens : alongside a solid and experimented Spanish team, Torrens only represents one of many talents who are part of this Spanish team. However, the 31 years old forward is one of the most experimented players of this Spanish roster. Her experience and basketball IQ will be a important element for Spain.
  • Cecilia Zandalasini : How far can Cecilia Zandalasini bring Italy ? The 25 years old forward will be the center piece of the Italian team. After averaging 16 points in 2019, she went through a less produvtive season in 2020, averaging 10 points. Despite this, no doubt she will find a way to lead Italy as far as possible. In an Italian who potentially represents a trap for the contenders, Zandalasini can’t be underestimated.
  • Ana Dabovic : averaging 10 points 2.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 2020, Ana Dabovic had a solid season with her club playing in the French league. Earlier I mentionned Serbia as a contender and one of the toughest team of the tournament. Ana Dabovic is the leader of this solid Serbian team who can surely pretend to win in June. Skilled, experimented and physical, Dabovic represents a challenging opponent for any guard facing her.

And here are five players who may be a surprise during the tournament :

  • Gaby Williams : at 24 years old, the French-American Gaby Williams can finally make her debut with the French team. After three seasons in WNBA averaging 6.8 points and a 2020 Euroleague season averaging 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, the talented 5″11 forward is ready to wear the French jersey and ready to go get a first trophy with her national team. Alongside Sandrine Gruda and Marine Johannes, Gaby Williams is here to bring her scoring and defensive effort to the French team. Watch her closely, because she might be one of the most explosive player of the tournament.
  • Raquel Carerra : one of youngest player of the tournament and yet one who could surprised a lot of people. After averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds in her first profesionnal season with the club of Valencia in Eurocup, the 19 years old 6″3 center is about to take part to her very first tournament with the Spanish team. Despite her young age, she is a very capable mid range shooter (for a center) and already skilled. Up to her to manage the pressure that goes with this kind of tournament.
  • Ivana Dojkic : the 23 years old guard represents an important element of this Croatian team. Despite averaging only 4 points in 2020, she already proved her talents by averaging 18 points in 2019 in her last Eurocup season. In an open and challenging Group D, Dojkic might be one of the key of Croatia’s success.
  • Zala Friskovec : Earlier I talked about Slovenia as an outsider during this tournament. Why is Slovenia an outsider ? Partly because of Zala Friskovec. Averaging 13 points in 2020, Friskovec is one of the key to Slovenia’s success. Very capable shooter (both outside and in the mid-range), Zala Friskovec, like many in this list, can’t be underestimated.
  • Mariella Fasoula : 6″4 averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds in 2020 during her Eurocup season, Fasoula represents Greece’s next generation. The dominant and skilled center may do some damage in June, watch her closely !

Now you have all the informations you need in order to follow and watch the Women’s Euro Basket 2021 ! See you on June 17 !

Head pic credit: Chloé Berard (@Cl0_11)