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Romero Right At Home

08 July 2015
U20 WOMEN
10. Leticia Romero (Spain)
 Leticia Romero has eased into the Spanish team, despite joining up late in preperations

Leticia Romero may not have had long to train with her team-mates ahead of U20 European Championship Women, but the fit appears effortless as Spain shine on the Canary Islands courts.

The point guard's talents are so well regarded that for the past two summers she has combined a European youth tournament campaign with an accelerated integration into the senior set-up.

The 20-year-old played a bit-part role during the 2014 FIBA World Championship before building on that experience at EuroBasket Women 2015, providing a crucial contribution in Spain's bronze medal game success.

But her exploits at the highest level left little preparation for her return to youth competition.

"It's been a challenge because I just had one day of practice, one day before the tournament started," said Romero, after another fine all-round display during Spain's defeat of Belgium.

"It's been too fast, but it is very easy to play with this team. I know all of them, we have played together each summer for many years, so it's not hard. I just have to adjust to the plays and the roles.

"Of course it's not the same role (as with the senior team), but I didn't come here to be a leader. This team really understands how to play together and to be a good team where all the players can contribute.

5. Leticia Romero (Spain)
Romero was involved with her country's senior team at last month's EuroBasket Women

"That's the good thing, we are all leaders so it is very easy for me to fit in."

That fit appears a natural one as Romero, time and again, threads the needle for the perfect pass off a pick-and-roll, or gives up her shot to find a team-mate with a better look.

It is by no means a one-woman show, however, with players well-versed in the Spanish system and its success, all over the floor.

The exciting, or terrifying, prospect - depending on your national persuasion - is that Romero believes the unbeaten hosts will only get better as the familiarity grows.

"Many plays are similar (to the senior team), the system is similar, but we have different players, we have different plays and things that we do," Romero added.

"That has been the biggest thing, to really know them, because, as a point guard, you have to really know your team-mates where to pass the ball and who is going to do what.

"That is going to be a progressive thing for me during the tournament. I think we are just growing into this tournament."

Romero was one of the stars of last year's U20 European Championship Women, of course.

The then teenager, helped Spain reach the final before eventually suffering an overtime defeat to an Olivia Epoupa-inspired France.

Despite achieving All-Tournament status, it was clear there was more to come from Romero, who was then coming off a troubled college season dominated by a blocked transfer.

But 12 months on and fresh from a successful campaign with Florida State, Romero is fit and firing, ready for another gold-medal tilt in front of enthusiastic home support.

4. Leticia Romero (Spain), 7. Olivia Epoupa (France)
Romero and Spain have unfinished business, having lost to an Olivia Epoupa-inspired effort in last year's final

"Last year was tough for me because of what I went through with college," recalled Romero of the situation surrounding Kansas State's refusal to release the her following the departure of head coach Deb Patteron.

"But this summer is different. It's different because we are at home and because this generation has always been successful."

Gold medals at U16, U18 and a silver at U17 world level, unsurprisingly increase the expectation heaped on head coach Jose Ignacio Hernández.

But for Romero, originally from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, returning home to try and end her decorated youth career with one last win is a new and exciting feeling, one she feels her team will capitalise on.

"At the beginning it was weird," revealed Romero. "This is really my home so to see so many people I know, who have never seen me play in a tournament like this, and see them cheering me on, is just amazing for me.

"No matter what happens, I know my team is going to respond to everything.

"It's the last year for many of us. We are going to take it day-by-day but we are ready for the finals."

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