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FRA - Epoupa and Ayayi to lead way for Les Bleues
PARIS (FIBA U19 World Championship for Women) - Olivia Epoupa, the MVP at last year's U18 European Championship, and her Basket Landes team-mate Valerianne Ayayi, look destined to spearhead France's challenge at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Lithuania after a 17-strong candidate list was announced by the French Basketball Federation (FFBB).
Ayayi is currently making plenty of people sit up and take notice of her development, since she was the only teenager to be named on the preliminary roster for the senior team that will step out as hosts of EuroBasket Women next month.
And, having survived the first couple of swings of the axe made by head coach Pierre Vincent, the forward is edging ever closer to her dream of playing at the tournament and debuting for the favourites in Trelaze.
While Avavi was one of the leaders as France topped the podium in Bucharest last summer, it was the stunning contribution of the electrifying playmaker Epoupa that really caught the eye as she added another personal accolade and team medal to her impressive youth resume.
But Ayayi has really stepped up to the plate during her first full season in the French League, meaning both players should be the ones to anchor the team when they arrive in Panevezys to face Canada, Netherlands and Senegal in Group C.
Shooting guard duo Mamignan Toure and Lidija Turcinovic will also return, the former having gained valuable experience by playing in 11 Euroleague Women games for Arras last season and the latter being part of the Basket Lattes Montpellier team which took the regular season LFB title.
There will also be some real continuity for France which should also go in their favour with only a couple of players who grabbed gold last year, not picking up the baton once again.
The group will come together to commence preparations at the end of the week under the watchful eye of head coach Jerome Fournier. As part of their warm-up schedule, they will head to Turkey to represent France at the Mediterranean Games next month.
France 17-candidate roster for U19 Women: Brenda Agblemagnon (Arras), Valérianne Ayayi(Basket Landes), Maïmouna Ba (Centre Fédéral), Marième Badiane (RocheVendée BC), Clarince Djaldi Tabdi (Centre Fédéral), Olivia Epoupa (MeneuseBasket Landes), Elise Fagnez (Centre Fédéral), Aby Gaye (Centre Fédéral) ,Mathilde Geisser (Bourges Basket), Ophélie Irabe (USO Mondeville), PaulineLithard (Reims), Eva Marsac (Limoges ABC), Marie-Eve Paget (Cavigal Nice Basket 06), Awa Sissoko (SIG), Mamignan Toure (Arras), Lidija Turcinovic(Basket Lattes Montpellier), Amélie Voynet (SI Graffenstaden), Pauline Betis(USO Mondeville), Imane Brahimi (Rennes Avenir), Natty Chambertin (Paysd'Aix Basket 13), Coralie Desprez (Dunkerque Malo), Lisa Faurez (DunkerqueMalo), Lisa Lefevre (Pays d'Aix Basket 13), Angelina Turmel (Centre Fédéral)