A-Z wrap of U18 European Championship for Women in Matosinhos
NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen's Women's Basketball Worldwide) - The 2014 edition of the U18 European Championship for Women is in the books and here's my A to Z wrap of events in Matosinhos, Portugal.
B is for bronze and as far as Salvadores was concerned, it was the wrong colour. While 99.9% of those involved in the tournament partied in the adjacent gym, she stood alone in the middle of the main court late into the night and couldn't hide her disappointment. Just one more reason why she is destined to be a great player.
C is for Cesar Castro, a Technical Director in the north of Portugal who drove me and my colleagues to and from games. He was a brilliant ambassador for Portuguese basketball and an absolute gentleman who helped make it a great experience!
D is for Dmitry Donskov, the gold-medal winning coach for Russia who did an outstanding job.
E is for excitement which certainly wasn't in short supply in Matosinhos, with plenty of close games throughout the tournament.
F is for fundamentals and especially those shown by Camille Cirgue of France. One of the hardest workers I have seen, it's no surprise she played so many minutes - demonstrating that application can sometimes outshine natural talent.
G is for gold and Russia ending 10 long years without a top of the podium finish at U18 level.
H is for honourable mentions and those go to Kseniia Levchenko (RUS), Zhosselina Maiga (RUS), Laia Flores (ESP), Cecilia Zandalasini (ITA), Janis Ndiba (NED), Camille Cigue (FRA) and Julie Allemand (BEL).
I is for inspiration and this was provided by Carolina Bernadeco, the Portugal playmaker I wrote about in my previous column. It was a special feeling for me to meet her when she came over at the end of Portugal's last game - and my favourite moment for sure!
K is for Kseniia Levchenko who could have been MVP, but in the end couldn't even squeeze a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
L is for loud and the incredible noise created by the fans in Matosinhos which was unprecedented for a women's youth tournament (at least in the early stages). Crowds of 2,000-2,500 turned up to cheer for the Portugal national team and the medal games.
M is for MVP and Daria Kolosovskaia looked surprised, but you can't argue with her all-action 15.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
P is for Portuguese passion! They certainly love their basketball and especially women's basketball. Respect!
R is for referees and I thought that overall, they did a very good job at this tournament.
S is for scheduling which wasn't so great during the last phase. The Quarter-Finals were played simultaneously in different arenas and the qualification games for places at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women were edged out of the main arena in favour of arguably less important classification games.
T is for Turkey who were relegated with an eye-watering 1-8 record - certainly a big blow for women's basketball in a nation which is doing plenty to promote it.
U is for underdogs and I think Croatia finishing in the top eight was superb.
V is for volunteers and they all worked tirelessly and did a really great job - congratulations!
X is for 'X-factor' and that was the Russian wing players. Stopping the twin towers of Maiga and Sema in addition to slowing down Levchenko is tough, but also hitting big shots from the wing made them truly three-dimensional and ultimately unstoppable.
Y is for youtube which remained largely redundant in terms of live streaming - a big miss after success at U17 and U20 level recently.
Z is for Zhosselina Maiga who had a fabulous tournament aside from the final. While the Russian senior frontcourt is stacked, she looks like she has the potential to play at that level, maybe at EuroBasket Women 2017.
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