While Adia Barnes and Salvo Coppa are busy running coaching clinics in Europe this week, two of the Arizona Wildcats’ 2019 verbal commits are taking part in the European U18 Championships. The group stage of the U18 got underway this weekend with Latvia’s Mara Mote and Iceland’s Birna Benonysdottir representing their respective countries.
Mote and her teammates are competing in Division A, which is being held in Udine, Italy. The Latvian team will spend the week battling fellow members of Group B to advance.
After two games, they stand at 1-1, opening with a loss to Germany on Saturday and a win over Slovenia today. Sunday, Latvia will continue play against group leader Hungary.
The 5’10” forward struggled in the opening game against Germany. Mote put up 8 points in 24 minutes on 2-of-6 shooting and 3-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line. She turned the ball over four times while committing three fouls. She had zero assists and zero steals to go with only two rebounds. Despite her struggles, her team kept it close, losing 66-62.
Mote and her team turned it around Saturday. She still struggled to score, putting up only 6 points in 18 minutes on 1-of-6 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the line. She was much more successful with the other aspects of her game, though.
Against Slovenia, Mote dished out three assists with no turnovers. She also had two steals to go along with three rebounds, all while only committing one foul. The Latvian team blew out their opponents in a 74-41 win.
Benonysdottir and her Icelandic teammates find themselves in Fuerstenfeld, Austria competing in Group A of Division B. After three days of competition, they stand at 1-2.
Benonysdottir’s team suffered an 80-51 loss to Portugal on Friday, but the 6’2” center put on a good show. She led her team with 12 points and 6 rebounds against Portugal. She went 4-for-9 from the field and 3-for-4 from the line while also dishing out two assists.
Her team’s 93-41 win over Georgia on Saturday didn’t give her many opportunities to gain stats, but she came back Saturday in a 63-49 loss to Romania. Benonysdottir once again led her team in both scoring and rebounding, posting a double-double with 14 points and 14 boards.
Arizona has one of the top European players arriving this season in Valeria Trucco. With Benonysdottir and Mote sharpening their games against high level competition, the Wildcats hope to strengthen the pipeline from the national teams of Europe to Tucson.
You can watch the games on FIBA’s YouTube channel.