AMSTERDAM (2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women) - The United States will begin the quest to defend their U17 World Championship for Women title while the remainder of Group A will likely battle it out for placing.
Team USA will be favored in every contest in Amsterdam as they once again are a deep side ready to claim the crown again. Jill Rankin Schneider’s team is loaded at every position with elite talent and will be hard to stop – as witnessed by a series of blow-out victories in the build-up to Amsterdam.
Belgium fancy their chances of taking second behind the Americans thanks to the dynamic Hind Ben Abdelkader. But 16-year-old playmaker Julie Allemand – one of the driving forces to Belgium taking fourth at the 2012 U16 European Championship – is out with an ankle injury.
Coach Arvid Diels hopes his Belgian side can knock off Mali, Korea and possibly Canada without Allemand before a day off and the game against the Americans before a big game on the final day of group action against Italy – which should see two of Europe’s brightest youngsters battle it out in Ben Adbdelkader and Italy 16-year-old Cecilia Zandalasini.
Italy’s Group A starts off with an important encounter with Canada as both teams want to start the championship with a victory. Canada have Italy and Belgium sandwiched around their game with the USA in the first three days of the competition before finishing group play against Mali and Korea.
Korea and Mali meanwhile enter the tournament as slight unknowns, and their showdown on the third day of action could determine which side is still alive for a spot in the Quarter-Finals.