The Spanish team closed the past decade as the country with the most medals won in the FIBA training championships (42), ahead of the United States (31), Australia (27) and France (26). In total, 19 podiums for the men's teams and 23 for the women's teams, 12 of them with gold around their neck. In 2016, Raquel Carrera played her first World Cup at the age of 14, among 17-year-old girls, and shortly after, she achieved the first gold of her record. This weekend, in the Queen's Cup, the Galician player, 19 years old and 1.90m, is looking for her first title with Valencia Basket while strongly applying to be with the senior team in the Eurobasket and the This summer's games after their brilliant evolution.
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“I have been assimilating everything naturally. Everything is coming in due time and I hope that many more things will continue to arrive. The key to everything is to work and work hard, ”says Carrera in the middle of the fight for the Queen's Cup —this Saturday the semifinals will be played: Uni Girona-Perfumerías Avenida (13.00, Tdp) and Gernika-Valencia Basket (17.00, Tdp) -, with a mature and humble speech, oblivious to the expectations that place her as the player with the greatest projection in Spanish women's basketball. “I have always had the responsibility. The idea is to continue growing and training in the sport that I am passionate about. And the key is that the illusion is always above the pressure. I can't get frustrated or excited about people's expectations, "says the Ourense center, who, after passing selectivity last year, is now studying a nutrition degree, with the prospect of pursuing a physiotherapy career.
" My mother put it into my head from a very young age that I had to study. That he played basketball or whatever he wanted, but that he studied, to be someone of benefit, ”says Raquel when she reviews her young biography. A path that soon led her to basketball. “I had tried handball, dance, rhythmic gymnastics… but basketball was what hooked me. My friends also played basketball and it was where I most enjoyed the camaraderie, the team concept, the collective emotion ”, she continues. His first baskets were at the Colegio de San José, his school in Ourense. Soon came the stretch and the first turning point: leaving home at the age of 13 to develop his talent at Celta de Vigo, one of the best quarries in Spanish basketball.
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Carlos Colinas, director coach of the team where Alba Torrens, Laura Nicholls, Tamara Abalde and María Araujo grew up, recalls the impression that little Raquel Carrera made on her. “With her minibasket team in Ourense, at just 11 years old, you could already see that she was a very smart girl on the track, she stood out for her competitive instinct. We gave her a scholarship in her training, we signed her and she made her debut in Liga Femenina 2 when she was 14 years old ”, Colinas reviews, before listing the characteristics that have driven her rapid projection. “From very early on it was seen that she was a special player. The naturalness with which he deals with everything is surprising. In Spain there has never been a player so great who contributes so much and has so much impact on the game, none. He has a tremendous defensive performance, he arrives a second before everything. She bounces, scores, steals, assists, makes her teammates better … She has a sixth sense for the game and the desire to want to be a basketball player ”, emphasizes Celta's technical director, who also experienced the second crossing of Carrera.
“In her third year with us in Vigo, everything was called from American universities and from Spanish League 1 clubs. But she was always clear that she had come here to complete a four-year cycle. Someone who is not very mature is not capable of managing that bombing as she did, ”says Colinas. “She has a great capacity for concentration in the competition and that allows her to carry everything naturally. He transforms in the face of challenges and enjoys what he does a lot. She is a brutal competitor ”, he completes.
Carrera opted for the stability of the five-year project offered by Valencia Basket – the first of which was transferred to Araski de Vitoria to progressively forge himself into the elite. A decision supported by José Ignacio Hernández, former coach and current technical director of the women's teams. “Not everything is the United States. Being in the Women's League since the age of 18 means playing at a competitive level much higher than that of the players who are in the American university league. The NCAA would be too small for him. It has succeeded in that, because it has quickly consolidated its evolution, we refer to the tests ”, he points out. If a gap is made between the final 12 for the Eurobasket and the Games, she will not have that role of the young player who comes to gain experience. It will contribute from the beginning. The ceiling is going to mark her and she has an enormous capacity to work to go far, ”adds Hernández.
Her coach at Valencia Basket, Rubén Burgos, confirms Carrera's competitive maturity. “It is a great project for the future, but it is already a great reality. With her we have never looked at the ID and in the selection they will not do it either. It has always been up to the challenge that has been put before it and now it is being that way. It was born for this ”, closes the technician. “When I grow up I would like to be a basketball player,” Raquel completes, laughing, between innocence and boundless ambition. The future is here. Her name is Raquel Carrera.