|Spain were crowned champions six times in the past eight U16 European Championshis Women and are again considered big favourites to reach the top of the podium. |
With 214 teams participating in 14 tournaments this year, it is time for youth basketball to take the spotlight. The U16 European Championship Women, held in Miskolc from 12-22 July, promises to be one of the summer's major tournaments.
Having won the championship six times in the past eight years, defending champions Spain are considered favourites. Whilst providing a totally revamped team compared to last year, head coach Evaristo Perez knows how to win.
Besides Spain, the teams of Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands will hope to end the tournament on a high note, as they will represent Europe at the upcoming U17 World Championship, staged in Amsterdam from 17-26 August.
2010 champions Russia finished sixth in last year's campaign and are eager to rectify the result this year. Likewise, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Croatia will try to improve their performances with more experienced rosters.
While some of the players return to the competition, the U16 European Championship Women serves as centre stage to new faces, ready to showcase their talent and follow in the footsteps of great players. Every year, fans across Europe witness the beginning of promising careers at the youth events.
The best examples are Slovenia's Nika Baric and Belgium's Emma Meesseman. The FIBA Europe Young Women's Players of the Year 2010 and 2011, respectively, have made their international debut at the U16 European Championship Women.
The 16 participating teams are divided into four groups, with the top three teams advancing to the Qualifying Round. From this year on, three teams will get relegated from Division A, with three teams being promoted from Division B. This change will see the classification games for 13th to 16th place become even more competitive, as there is little margin left for error. Excitement is to be expected in all games.