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Team in focus - Spain
MADRID (FIBA World Championship for Women) - The 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women is just around the corner. In the lead-up to the biggest international basketball event, we take an individual look at all 16 teams.
FIBA bwin Ranking Women: No.6
Last participation in the FIBA World Championship for Women: 2010 (7 wins, 2 defeats; 3rd place)
Best result in the history of the FIBA World Championship for Women: 3rd place (2010)
Result in qualifying tournament for 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women: Winners of EuroBasket Women 2013 (9 wins, 0 defeats)
The EuroBasket Women 2013 champions have a genuine opportunity to make a tilt at making it successive podium finishes at the FIBA World Championship for Women - even if they will be without a legend of the women's game.
There will undoubtedly be a strange sight when Spain line-up for the national anthems inside Ankara Arena at the weekend without their driving force for over 15 years, in the now retired Amaya Valdemoro.
With another fantastic servant in Elisa Aguilar also no longer available, it's time for a new generation to take up the reins and that is exactly what looks to be happening.
Now seems like a perfect time to blood some rising stars, with veteran playmaker Laia Palau and EuroBasket Women MVP Sancho Lyttle not likely to continue wearing the vest much longer, the future of Spanish basketball could also be on show in the Turkish capital.
Highly-rated duo Leticia Romero and Leonor Rodriguez come in for their senior debuts and since everything that Mondelo touches seems to turn to gold, even with new younger players thrown into the mix, you still have to expect Spain to shine.
In addition to topping the podium coaching his country at youth level, the coach with the Midas touch won the EuroLeague Women title in his first season in the competition, the WCBA title in his first season at Shanxi, then EuroBasket Women in what was his first major tournament for the Spanish senior side.
His willingness to think outside of the box and have his players be flexible, dynamic and run the floor at every opportunity has proven a delight and especially when someone genuinely special like Alba Torrens is in full flow. She returns to Turkey after a historic season with Galatasaray at club level.
Silvia Dominguez adds experience alongside Palau, while Marta Xargay can put on a defensive master class at any time. The added bonus for Spain is that having looked like a certain absentee due to an ACL injury, Laura Gill has recovered and will bolster the paint with Laura Nicholls and Lyttle.
There are also a trio of fascinating selections all adding further experience to temper the injection of youth. Anna Cruz and Lucila Pascua are back on board after being overlooked for France last year, while Nuria Martinez returns after an astonishing seven year absence from national team duties. Now a veteran, the point guard will love stepping out in turkey where she has been playing with Kayseri, ahead of her pending move to Galatasaray.
Spain are one of the favourites to reach the podium, but can’t afford any slow starts in a well-balanced Group A against Brazil, the Czech Republic and Japan if they want to repeat their third place exploits of four years ago.