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Breaking down five WNBA players’ paths to success at EuroBasket Women 2019

The EuroBasket Women 2019 qualifiers will conclude next week. Let’s take a look at five WNBA players and their paths to a berth.

Basketball - Olympics: Day 11
Astou Ndour will represent Spain in their next two games as she and the Spanish look to clinch a berth EuroBasket Women 2019.
Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

The EuroBasket Women 2019 tournament will be held June 27 through July 7, 2019, in Serbia and Latvia. Sixteen teams will play for continental supremacy and a chance to keep their 2020 Olympic hopes alive.

Before EuroBasket Women 2019 begins, however, teams have to qualify. Currently, 32 countries are in eight, four-team groups competing for those 16 spots. The first-place teams from each group will get in automatically, along with the top-six, second-place teams (based on scoring margins and records).

Four games in the qualifiers have already been played. The fifth games will be played on Saturday, Nov. 17, and the sixth games will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 21.

All games can be streamed live on YouTube.

Now, let’s take a look at five WNBA players competing for five different countries and what their teams must do to clinch a spot.

Bria Hartley, France

The New York Liberty guard announced earlier this fall that she will play for the French national team, which plays in Group E. She will make her debut when the French play Romania on Nov. 17. The French play Slovenia, the current leader of the group, on Nov. 21.

With the exception of their 68-62 loss to Slovenia on Feb. 10, France has dominated Finland and Romania previously in the group stage, so the French should make a EuroBasket Women spot even if they were to lose to Slovenia as they did earlier in the year.

Emma Meesseman, Belgium

The Washington Mystics forward missed the 2018 WNBA season to train with the Belgian national team for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Missing the WNBA season ended up being a good decision for Meesseman and her performance in the World Cup, where she made the All-Star Five after becoming the tournament’s second-leading scorer. The Belgians placed fourth in the World Cup.

Belgium is currently in second place in Group G after losing 53-48 to the Czech Republic on Feb. 10, and they could fall to third if they lose their remaining games and Germany wins the rest of theirs. The Belgians play Germany on Saturday, Nov. 17, so this is a must-win game. If they beat Germany, Belgium could get revenge by defeating the Czech Republic on Nov. 21 and, perhaps, win the group outright.

Astou Ndour, Spain

The Chicago Sky center is averaging 13.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the qualifiers. She is one of Spain’s key contributors in the low post and also plays a good role in the Sky’s center rotation.

Spain plays the Netherlands on Saturday, Nov. 17. If the Spanish defeat the Dutch, they will clinch the Group F championship and a EuroBasket Women berth.

Maria Vadeeva, Russia

The Los Angeles Sparks center is averaging 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Russians, who hope to clinch the Group C championship as early as Nov. 17, when they play Lithuania. The Russians are also trying to rebound after a disappointing finish in EuroBasket Women 2017, where they were eliminated before the quarterfinals.

For those who think Vadeeva won’t make much of an impact in the WNBA, because she was a reserve, should watch her more closely when she has a chance to play starting minutes. And, even for the Sparks last season, Vadeeva had per-36 averages of 16.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Those are very promising numbers indeed.

Kia Vaughn, Czech Republic

The New York Liberty center is averaging 8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game for the Czechs, who lead Group G. The Czech Republic will play Switzerland on Nov. 17, when they have a chance to win an automatic EuroBasket Women berth (if Belgium loses to Germany).

Vaughn and the Czechs should not assume that Belgium will lose, however. Therefore, expect to see a very competitive game on Nov. 21 when the Czechs and Belgians face off.