One day after Perfumerías Avenida de Salamanca was crowned champion of the Endesa Women’s League, the coach, Lucas Mondelo, has announced the pre-list of 17 players with whom he will begin to prepare the first championship of an unprecedented and demanding double challenge. The Spanish team will face the European Championship in Valencia (June 17 to 27) and the Tokyo Games (July 23 to August 8) consecutively, with only 25 days of margin between one and another appointment. The call, from which the 12 final players for the European Championship will come out, is headed by the captain, Laia Palau, 41, and has the debutant Laia Flores, 25, as the main novelty. So far this century, Spain has won nine medals (three golds, one silver and five bronzes) in 10 Europeans (it only missed the podium in 2011).
Laia Palau (298 caps), Silvia Domínguez (180), Alba Torrens (170), Laura Gil (118) and Astou Ndour (64) represent the recognizable core of the golden age of the women’s team. With Cristina Ouviña, Queralt Casas, Leo Rodríguez, María Conde and the return of Leticia Romero and Tamara Abalde, as representatives of the intermediate link of medalists that consolidate a group in transition. And Maite Cazorla (23 years old) and Raquel Carrera (19) as emblems of the thriving generational change that is joined by Laura Quevedo, Nogaye Lo and Paula Ginzo. In total, five players from Valencia Basket (Eurocup champion and Cup and League finalist), three from Perfumerías Avenida (League and Super Cup champion and Euroleague finalist), two from Uni Girona (Cup champion), two from Gernika , one from Araski and one from Ensino Lugo. And only three emigrants: Torrens, in the European champion Yekaterinburg; Ndour, in the Turkish Hatay and in the Chicago Sky of the WNBA; and Conde, at the USK Prague.
Spain, framed in group A, with Sweden, Belarus and Slovakia as the first rivals, faces the challenge of conquering its fourth European Championship in five editions after the golds of 2013 in Orchies, 2017 in Prague and 2019 in Belgrade. An unparalleled domain since the times of the unreachable USSR, which achieved 21 golds in the 23 editions disputed between 1938 and 1991.
In the list of 17 players for the Valencia Eurobasket there are not three of the pillars of the selection of the seven consecutive medals between 2013 and 2019: Marta Xargay, who announced her retirement from the courts a year ago, and Anna Cruz and Laura Nicholls after their respective resignations. Nor are Andrea Vilaró, Belén Arrojo and Aina Ayuso part of the call, who were at the concentration last November where the path towards the double challenge of this summer began to be traced. The novelty will be the debut of Laia Flores, another versatile point guard. After spending four years at the University of South Florida, where she completed her studies in Health Sciences, Flores debuted in the women’s league in 2018 with the Mann Filter, then went to the Promete Campus in Logroño, and, just a month ago, signed by Uni Girona to fill the gap left by María Araujo, another of the absences in the national team after her serious knee injury in March.
“These are the players who are going to defend the Spain jersey and who are going to try to give the fans that point of joy and happiness in these difficult times,” Mondelo said after making the call official. “We are lucky to have many versatile players and hopefully we can make everyone enjoy this competitive basketball that they like so much,” stressed the coach, appealing to the support of the fans. “The city of Valencia is going to support us to death, as happened in Tenerife in the 2018 World Cup,” said Mondelo. Experience and youth to face an epic summer in the middle of a transition.