Four Women’s Basketball Players Competing Abroad This Summer

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Bronx, N.Y. – Fordham women’s basketball head coach Stephanie Gaitley always promotes the international flair of her program and this summer has been no different for the Rams. Rising redshirt sophomore Kate Kreslina has just wrapped up some invaluable experience at the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket with the Latvia senior national team, finishing sixth, incoming freshmen Zara Jillings and Johanna Klug will soon compete with their respective country’s national squads, and fellow newcomer Kendell Heremaia recently competed in and helped her club team, Waikato, win the New Zealand national U19 title.

Kreslina has long been a fixture of the junior Latvian squads and was even called up to the senior team in 2014 to help her country qualify for the 2015 iteration of EuroBasket, competing as the second-youngest member of that group at 18 years old, but not making the eventual tournament roster. Earlier this month, she earned a second call-up and this time it was to compete in EuroBasket proper. The Riga native made her lone start in the opening game, against defending champion Russia, appearing in six total contests in the seven-game tournament.  Kreslina and Latvia finished third in group D, what many called EuroBasket’s “Group of Death”, and defeated Serbia to qualify for the quarterfinals. Latvia fell to eventual champions, Spain, and finished sixth with a one-point victory over Italy and a loss to Turkey. Most importantly, with Spain hosting next summer’s FIBA Women’s World Cup, the sixth place finisher in Europe, Latvia, has qualified for it.

Jillings, meanwhile, has earned her first call-up with the Tall Ferns, New Zealand’s senior national team, as they seek to qualify for the World Cup through next month’s FIBA Women’s Asia Cup. Jillings is one of three debutants called in by head coach Kennedy Kereama and will be the youngest member of the Tall Ferns. Jillings will only feature in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan, a run-up event before World Cup qualifying. Also in the squad is former Ram and two-time Atlantic 10 First Team selection Erin Rooney. The Asia Cup will be held between July 23-29 with the Kiwis placed into Pool A alongside China, Chinese Taipei, and the DPR of Korea. The top four teams will qualify for the World Cup.

Klug has been called into the German U20 squad for the FIBA U20 European Championship, Division B, to be held in two weeks, July 8-16 in Eilat, Israel. Germany is in Group A, one of two groups, with Ukraine, Greece, Iceland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. They will kick off the tournament on July 8 against Ukraine at 9 a.m. local time.

Heremaia starred in Waikato’s tight 65-64 win over Canterbury Combined earlier in June to win New Zealand’s Women’s U19 national championship. The incoming freshman drained a clutch three-pointer with under a minute to play before teammate Charlisse Leger-Walker scored the go-ahead basket soon thereafter. Heremaia finished with eight points, third-most on the team, and nine rebounds in the final, while playing nearly 38 minutes. Against Waitakere West in the semifinals, the Whangarei native again started and nearly tallied a double-double, finishing with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting with nine rebounds, also adding five assists and two steals.

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