|11 April 2013|
|Elisa Aguilar can provide a wealth of wisdom to Spain |
By Paul Nilsen
It's incredibly difficult to assess Spanish prospects at Eurobasket Women this summer, since head coach Lucas Mondelo has a real dilemma to contend with.
The main problem comes not during the tournament itself, but now, as he tries to decide upon an effective balance between his veterans and rising stars.
It's no secret that a generation of players are rapidly approaching the end of their shelf-life at the elite level, with the play-caller needing to decide during coming weeks whether to call time on any of their glittering national team careers.
The likelihood is that there will be no major sweep of the broom just yet, with veteran guard Elisa Aguilar arguably the least likely to be sidelined, having enjoyed another full club season at the very highest level, both in EuroLeague Women and the Russian League with Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje.
The 36-year-old is ready to answer the call and help her country once again if Mondelo opts to utilise her services, although she understands the delicate situation Spain faces in trying to create the best fusion.
"If the national team calls me, then I will be ready to play," declared Aguilar.
"That's because it always gives me such huge pleasure to play.
"The young players have done a really great job at the youth level with lots of successful tournaments and many players can now try to get into the senior team.
"Even if they don't do this for the final roster, they can still get experience from practicing with the older players.
"I think it's clear that we have to find the best combination if we want to win EuroBasket Women," continued Aguilar.
"There will be some very good opportunities for everybody. But yes, the veteran players will soon be retiring, so I think whether it's in the summer or next time, we will see many more of the younger players in the team."
Whoever gets the nod to be included in the final 12 names will have the same mission according to Aguilar - getting Spain back challenging amongst the other medal contenders after a high profile and painful failure at EuroBasket Women 2011.
"It's true that two years ago in Poland was perhaps the biggest disappointment of all for us," said Aguilar as she recalled their surprisingly premature exit.
"We expected to go far and at least qualify for the Olympics in London, but we didn't do this and so it was very bad for us all.
|Elisa Aguilar has plenty left to do with Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje before shifting her focus to summer|
"It's important that we are now smart because we must learn from this experience, by making sure we treat every practice as if it is the last we will ever have."
She added, "This is the only way we can get ourselves back into the position where we can compete with national teams such as France and Russia."
Aguilar acknowledged Spain aren't expecting an easy ride in the first phase of the tournament and will have to be at their best from the very first second.
She insisted, "We have such a tough group and it will be difficult to win against Russia, Italy and Sweden."
Whilst Coach Mondelo mulls over the future of all his senior players, including the likes of Amaya Valdemoro and Anna Montanana, Aguilar is just relieved spring has finally arrived in Russia.
When asked if she would ever get used to the snow, she answered with an emphatic and straightforward "no".
She's currently looking forward to taking care of business in the Russian play-offs with Sparta&K, before hopefully shining brightly in a national team vest, just like the Spanish sunshine which she still misses like crazy.