Spain's senior national women's team may have a gruelling preparation schedule for the upcoming FIBA World Championship for Women, but that didn't stop two of the team's star players choosing to spend their free time on a trip to Tenerife and the Umcor European Championship U18 Women.
Nuria Martinez spent a few days in Tenerife in the preliminary round and Amaya Valdemoro turned up on Tuesday to check out the action.
Originally only schedued to stay for two days, Valdemoro was so enamoured with the action she decided to extend her visit to the end of the competition.
We caught up with Amaya during one of the breaks to get her thoughts about the talent on dispay at the championship.
What made you to decide to come to Tenerife?
I decided to come with my agent because I knew he was coming here. I knew there was a European Championship here and Spain never hosted one before, and I was in my time off so I decided to come here.
|Anna Carbo is one of the players who has caught Valdemoro's eye|
Who has impressed you so far?
I’m very impressed with the Spanish team. I know they won the last two U16 championships and they have some great talent, especially Anna Carbo, Alba Torrens and Tamara Abalde, all the players, Laura Nicholls also. But these four players have a great future.
On the French team I really like number Edene Miyem. Serbia have a great team and Sonja Petrovic really impressed me. Yesterday I saw one Lithuanian girl who is only a cadete (Aurime Rinkeviciute), very young, she’s a shooter. And Sweden is a great surprise. They are not afraid of anyone and do their job so I really enjoyed watching them play.
How does this tournament compare to when you were a youth team player?
I think year by year women's basketball is changing. Now the media is more with them and I think year by year you need to be more prepared physically and mentally. I’m impressed with the Spanish team because in Spain we are very small and in this team we have wings who are 1.90, 1.88. if you look at the senior Spanish team, the post players are this height! So I’m very impressed and you can say that women's basketball has improved a lot year by year.
How do the players react around you?
They’re lovely! When they saw me they didn’t say anything, but yesterday they knew I was coming because the team doctor is a very good friend of mine. This morning when they saw me in the hotel, they were like 'Oh my God'. Then I had lunch with the coaches and after I spent some time with them in the lobby.
They gave me a picture which everybody signed to Amaya and that was really nice of them. I love the way they are around me, like they were a little nervous and asked me a lot of questions and I tried to do whatever I can to help them if they ask me something. Before the game against Russia I spoke to one of them on the phone and they are very nice.
They are very mature for their age and you can tell that they have already played a lot of important games.
Do you see any players here who have a little bit of Amaya Valdemoro in their games?
Well I have changed a lot. My character is that I have a lot of emotions in the game, a lot. That’s good, but sometimes its bad because I can’t control them. Year by year I have improved a lot and now I have more control. But when I was younger, my god, I made everyone around me crazy! I mean my team, the other team, the coaches, referees, everybody!
I see some of the girls who play with a lot of character, but me I express my character a lot in the game. The players here are very young, but they play with character. The French team, one of the post players is very aggressive and the girls from Sweden too.
It's good that that they put a lot of games on television. Its normal that the girls from Spain recognise me but today I was in the hotel and a lot of players from the other teams recognised me and wanted pictures taken. I was really surprised. Women's basketball is changing. When I was that age I didn’t know any of the senior players, only the ones from the Spanish team. So FIBA Europe is doing a good job and we hope, me and the girls on the senior team that we can do more and more so the girls here can have a better future.
Can Spain win this championship?
Yeah definitely. I think the final will be Spain vs Serbia & Montenegro.