Basketball: Begoña de Santiago, captain of Estudiantes: “Celebrating the Queen’s Cup in the Huelva pavilion is taking a step back” | Basketball | Sports

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Movistar Estudiantes seeks to make history in the Copa de la Reina basketball tournament. The collegiate club, known as this because it was born at the Ramiro de Maeztu Institute, has never made it past the round of this tournament and dreams of reaching the semifinals in Huelva. They are Cinderella and are not among the favorites to get the trophy; In the first match the Madrid team has to beat a Spar Girona (8:30 p.m.; Teledeporte) that is not going through its best moment. The Catalans were eliminated last week from the Eurocup and to this we must add the serious injuries of important players such as Rebekah Gardner or the internationals Irati Etxarri and María Araujo. Estudiantes’ play this season depends on the hands and speed of Laura Méndez and the scoring ability of Marena Whittle. From March 21 to 24, the Carolina Marín Sports Palace will be the place where it will be decided whether Casademont Zaragoza continues as champion.

One of the main complaints of the teams and the fans is the location. In this edition it has been decided to place the Queen’s Cup in Huelva, a province and an autonomous community that does not have any women’s basketball team in the first division. Estudiantes will be the team that will have to travel the least distance: around 600 kilometers separate Ramiro de Maeztu from the Carolina Marín Sports Palace. The Basque, Galician and Mano teams will have more than 900 kilometers; while between Girona and Huelva is the greatest distance between two provincial capitals in the entire national territory, with more than 1,000 kilometers.

For Begoña de Santiago, captain of Estudiantes, the location chosen by the Spanish Basketball Federation means “taking a step back in women’s sports”, because it goes from a pavilion of just over 10,000 spectators, such as Prince Felipe from Zaragoza, to one with only 5,500. “It’s hard, we come from a Queen’s Cup in which the attendance record was broken.”

Training of the female Estudiantes Club before the celebration of the Queen’s Cup, at the Magariños Sports Center, in MadridJaime Villanueva

At the Antonio Magariños Sports Center, the heart of Estudiantes, David Gallego, who has been on the team’s bench since last season, tells this newspaper how important it is to “maintain confidence in the group and believe that it can be achieved.” Despite this, he knows that the student team is not among the favorites to win the trophy: “not fighting would be a disappointment, but never a failure.”

It is Begoña de Santiago’s first cup as team captain and the fourth she has played in her career. This player, who combines professional sports with studying medicine at the Complutense University, admits to being “excited” to play this competition again and believes that Girona is a “quite affordable” rival. Gracia Alonso de Armiño, a new addition to Estudiantes and current Cup champion with Casademont Zaragoza, points out that in this tournament “you have to take care of the small details if you want to advance to the round because it is a life or death competition.” The Basque player tells EL PAÍS that they are not traveling to Huelva to win a match: “We are going for the cup.”

  Coach David Gallego, after the female Estudiantes Club training a few days before the celebration of the Queen's Cup, at the Magariños Sports Center, in Madrid
Coach David Gallego, after the female Estudiantes Club training a few days before the celebration of the Queen’s Cup, at the Magariños Sports Center, in MadridJaime Villanueva

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