|25 July 2012|
| Antonia Delaere (left) and Harriet Bende (right) will lead Belgium's defence of the U18 European Championship Women title they helped conquer last summer |
Having scooped gold last summer in Oradea, Belgium will be looking to build on that first podium finish and first gold medal success at the U18 European Championship but without FIBA Europe Young Player Of The Year Emma Meesseman, it will be difficult.
However, they do have some classy players returning, not least Antonia Delaere who competed for the senior team in the EuroBasket Women Qualification Round earlier this summer.
Joining her is another terrific generation with the 1995-born players landing silver last summer at the U16 Championship. Central to that medal success was the astonishingly talented MVP Hind Ben Abdelkader, who has the skills to unlock and destroy most defences around.
Italy also finished on the podium on home soil at U16 level and they will bring a prolific rebounder in Elisa Ercoli.
She will link up with Erica Reggiani who returns and is expected to be one of the leading players this time around.
The Italians of course won gold at the U18 Championship just two summers ago.
Serbia will be a big danger to anyone having finished eighth last summer and now able to call upon a number of 1994-born players who, with that experience under their respective belts, could be even stronger this year.
For example, Natasa Kovacevic who led the team in scoring, steals and blocked shots in 2011, will again feature prominently.
The new influx of players may be led by the incredible offensive skills of Sanja Mandic who was a powerhouse at U16 level last year, racking up a super near-23 points per game.
She can score is so many different ways, she could take some stopping.
There is an unpredictable feel to Slovenia, who can recall a number of players who helped their team achieve an eleventh-place finish at U18 level in Oradea last year.
At the U16 Championshiop also last summer though, the 1995-born players could only help their team to a mediocre final position in Division B.
The all-action Nina Gabrovesk will show her competitiveness all over the floor and lead by example while power forward Ziva Macura will put her energy into doing another good job on the glass.
The frontcourt will be further strengthened by the addition of Eva Lisec, who shone brightly in Division B with the U16 team.