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Is Gretter the key to success for Argentina?
BUENOS AIRES (FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018) – When Argentina return to the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup for the first time since 2010, talented playmaker Melisa Gretter could be the one holding the precious key to success.
As one of the most exciting and capable point guards outside of the WNBA, Tenerife presents a huge opportunity for Gretter to put both herself and her country near to the center of the women’s basketball radar again.
Making up for lost time: Growth of women's ball in Argentina
She’s now 25-years-old and yet the Rafaela native has not yet played for her country at the Olympics or the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. It seems like only yesterday that Gretter was starring at youth level and lighting it up at U19 and U17 events, but she has since transitioned from searching for role models, to becoming a role model herself.
That is why success in the Canary Islands is so imperative. Argentina want to make a big splash to create some momentum and inspire the next generation – with many women’s basketball fans having already sat up and took notice of rising stars in the pipeline such as Florencia Chagas and Sofia Acevedo, who both turned heads at the recent FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
“The reality is that women's basketball in Argentina has been growing during recent years and we hope this is an incentive for all the girls,” declared Gretter.
“Whatever part of the country they are from and no matter how old they are, they are joining this beautiful sport and so we continue to grow a little more each year.”
Argentina will go up against Australia, Nigeria and Turkey when the action starts next month and Gretter is counting down the days until the big tip-off.
She said: “Luckily, I have the opportunity to play my first FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup representing my country, and that makes me very happy.
“We fought and worked hard, so we were able to achieve our main objective [of getting there]. The group matches are going to be very difficult, since there are great powers, but we are going to try to play them all as equals.”
That bitter-sweet taste of Buenos Aires 2017
The road to Tenerife could barely have been more bitter-sweet and dramatic. Playing in front of a passionate home crowd, Gretter and her team-mates came within a whisker of landing a dream FIBA Women’s AmeriCup title. They had the joy of reaching a first Final since 2011 and punching their ticket to the Worlds, but this didn’t really sugar-coat the swallowing of a large pill as they lost in agonizing fashion 65-67 to Canada.
Having had 12 months to reflect, Gretter is coming to terms with just missing out on a fairytale finish and is able to reflect on what was accomplished – rather than only dwelling on what might have been.
"There are thousands of anecdotes from both on and off the court. I created a nice atmosphere both with my colleagues, and with the coaching staff," she mused, having also made the prestigious All-Star Five.
“If we had achieved the win against Canada, it would have been the perfect tournament, but we got that bitter taste at the end. However, beyond the last result, the balance of the tournament was more than positive.”
Time to Shine in Tenerife
Under the watchful and supportive eye of head coach Cristian Santander, fans can expect to see Gretter flourish again.
Meanwhile for those yet to see her on the highlights reel, the player herself is focusing on what she will bring to the tournament in Tenerife – clearly appreciative of the need to continue working hard and evolving her own game.
“For those people who have never seen me play, they will see a lot of intensity from me and a desire to add things to the team,” revealed Gretter.
“I like to attend [to the needs of] my teammates and to always play by trying to find the best player who can shoot.
“What I like most about this sport is that it lets you get through every day. There is always something to learn, and that makes your game richer. This sport teaches you that with effort and dedication, things can happen.”
EuroLeague Women ambitions; Soccer Pride
Her ambitions to play a conductor role with her team are also mirrored when it comes to club basketball. Gretter has remained in South America during recent years and been a standout star, but when she lands on Spanish soil, it might just re-awaken a desire to one day compete in Europe again.
#Repost @balanacesta: A Craque da semana na @lbf.oficial não poderia ser outra que não @meligretter11, craque campeã pelo @veracruzbasquete Campinas. Meli terminou a quinta partida com 25 pontos, 7 rebotes, 2 assistências e 25 de eficiência, sendo a principal responsável pela virada do seu time contra o Sampaio Corrêa #CraquedaSemana
“While I have played the last two seasons in Brazil where I felt very comfortable, I do not rule out the idea of playing again in Europe,” she confirmed.
“The level is very good and I would like to be part of a team that plays EuroLeague Women, so I can continue to grow and add experiences.”
Away from all things hoops-wise, Gretter has been learning to switch off in the traditional way, while also consoling herself from a medicore display by her beloved Argentina team at the FIFA Soccer World Cup in Russia.
“Off the court and when I'm not in competition, I like to enjoy my family because I spend a lot of time without seeing them,” smiled Gretter
“I also take the opportunity to get together with friends to drink mate or listen to music.
“Obviously I was watching the [soccer] World Cup and I'm always standing with the national team. I was hoping they would do as well as possible, but even if not, I am proud because they represent us all and give everything for the national colors.”
Soon it will be the turn of Gretter to carry the responsibility of wearing the famous Argentina jersey and whatever happens, she is determined that the fans are proud of her own efforts as she belatedly leads Argentina back amongst the women’s basketball elite.