To return to the summit, a start over. The renewed women’s basketball team has been presented this Tuesday in Madrid at the beginning of the preparation that will lead them to the Eurobasket that will be held in Tel Aviv and Ljubljana between June 15 and 25. The challenge of conquering the fifth continental crown, after those achieved in 2003, 2007, 2017 and 2019, joins the objective of consolidating a process of transition and renewal that goes from the bench, with the command of Miguel Méndez after the stage of Lucas Mondelo, to the track. Spain marked a hiatus in a glorious era, with seven consecutive medals between 2013 and 2019, by being left out of the 2022 World Cup. In the Eurobasket that was held in 2021 in Valencia, the team did not enter the group of the best six and lost thus the option of tying a World Cup ticket.
From that disappointment a group emerges today with several new faces and the usual ambition. With her withdrawal, Laia Palau closed a life in the elite for 20 seasons and today she is team leader for the national team. Veterans like the captain Silvia Domínguez (36 years old) and Alba Torrens (33) continue in the gap, escorted by Queralt Casas and Laura Gil, and the squad, with Astou Ndour out, mixes that experience with the drive and youth of Figures like Raquel Carrera (21), recent winner of the League with Valencia Basket and best player in the final against Perfumerías Avenida.
The selection was presented with 17 players in its ranks, of which Méndez will rule out five before the Eurobasket, a tournament in which Spain will share a group with Montenegro, Latvia and Greece. According to the FIBA ranking, the Spanish team is the second favourite, only behind France, and ahead of Belgium and Serbia. At stake is also securing a place for the pre-Olympic tournament for the 2024 Paris Games (France and five other teams will get the ticket).
“We come from a summer of not competing at an official level, there are many new faces in the group, it will be very important to capture the values on the track,” said Silvia Domínguez on Tuesday. “It is a group with a lot of talent, which comes from the lower categories. It is time for them to transfer all that to the team, they are making room for themselves and they must take over ”, added the Perfumerías base. “The illusion has not disappeared during all these years. We will be ready to compete”, said Alba Torrens.
It will be the debut in a great event for Miguel Méndez, the coach who has written a successful career in the powerful Yekaterinburg and who takes over from Lucas Mondelo (2012-2021), a stage that ended in a convulsive manner after criticism from Marta Xargay and Anna Cruz to the technician’s methods. “It is a moment of change, of relief of some of the great players who have led us to the best streak in Spanish basketball. We didn’t start from scratch, rather we have those references, but this stage forces us to be humble because we come from a last championship that didn’t go well and from a summer in which we didn’t compete”, commented Méndez. The challenge, according to the Galician coach, is “to make a team out of the group”. The coach counts in his favor with the knowledge of some players he met in the training categories. “The transition is continuous, but now it will be faster because some young players will have to have more relevant roles,” he argued.
Spain will begin in Vigo, with matches against Italy (May 25) and China (May 26), a preparation tour that will then take them to Córdoba (June 2 against Turkey and June 4 against Belgium) before a double duel against to Hungary (June 9 and 10) in Sopron. “Joy, illusion returns,” said the federation president, Jorge Garbajosa.
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