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Diana Taurasi: a true Argentine
They sat early in the bleachers. The two were wearing a Rosario Central jersey. Ayelén Otero, who plays in the Rosario basketball team, and her partner, had traveled to Bahia Blanca to watch the national team play and, also, to meet Diana Taurasi. The best player in history, born of an Argentine mother and an Italian father – she has a strong connection to Argentina. She lived for a year in her mother's homeland and throughout her life has kept the traditions of the country that she feels more drawn to than those of the United States, where she was born.
Since she stepped foot in Argentine soil, Taurasi has received constant shows of affection. But when she had to face the local national team, it was even more special. In the Olympic presentation, the entire Dow Center in Bahia Blanca stood up and cheered when the presenter said: “Diana Taurasi”. The Phoenix Mercury shooting guard thanked everyone by raising her hands and then taking one to the chest, very close to her heart. The recognition continued with a gift: Federico Susbielles, CABB President; and Débora González, the team captain, gave an Argentina jersey with the number 12 and her last name on the back. Taurasi hugged both, posed for the picture, and then kissed the uniform.
An assist without looking at the end of the second quarter was a glimpse of her magic that Taurasi gifted to the public that filled the stadium. As the conclusion of the game approached and despite the wide difference that favored the United States, the fans sang the classic chant: “… soy argentino, es un sentimiento, no puedo parar…” (… I'm Argentine, it’s a feeling, I just can’t stop…”). Diana followed the song by marking the rhythm with her feet and following the lyrics. The scene happened again when the 91-34 win by the United States became official. Then, Taurasi let go and waved her arms like any other fan.
In the press conference, Taurasi portrayed her fluency when speaking the language she learned at home. Her accent gives her away as just another Argentina, as just another person from Rosario. And the things she likes confirm this. They asked her if in the future she would like to coach the Argentine national team. “If there are alfajores and dulce de leche, yes,” she answered with a big smile. And when she knew that there were a pair of Rosario Central fans, the soccer team’s fan said: “We canallas are everywhere. Now I'm going to say hello to them.”
And she went to a group of spectators that were waiting for her. She satisfied all those that requested selfies and autographs. She was given a Rosario Central flag and she treasured the gesture.
She was just lacking to meet her rivals’ requirements. In the locker room door, several Argentine players went up to her. “What do we need to qualify?” asked Taurasi to Agostina Burani as they were taking a picture. “You've already qualified,” replied the center of the local team. “No, us. Argentina,” Diana insisted. “That you play in our team,” Agostina answered. “I already have the jersey,” joked the best of all times.
And that's how Diana Taurasi left: enjoying an evening when she played for the United States but had her heart with Argentina.