Spain 3x3 star Gimeno: ''I would be here even if 3x3 wasn't at the Olympics''
MADRID (Spain) - Vega Gimeno first hit the 3x3 half-court at the European Games in Baku back in 2015. The newly formed Spanish quartet managed to win the bronze. Gimeno finished the tournament “exhausted” but determined to find more opportunities to play 3x3.
Fast forward six years later, 30 year-old Gimeno is a mainstay on the Spanish national team. Along with teammates Aitana Cuevas, Paula Palomares and Sandra Ygueravide (among others), they have been leading the women’s team to increasing success on the international stage. This week, they will kick off their training camp in preparation for the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria on May 26-30 2021.
Previous to 2019, Spain’s women were always a strong team but never managed the same consistency in winning medals as some of their European counterparts (except a bronze medal at the Europe Cup 2017).
Though in 2019, Spain proved to be one the toughest teams to beat - and Gimeno credits this to FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series, “The Women’s Series was one of the keys to our success. It made us compete almost every weekend and we were able to really build a team. We played a lot of games and played different situations that made us grow as a team.”
Spain played in six FIBA 3x3Women’s Series Stops out of fifteen and managed to place 5th overall in the standings. They finished 2nd at the Debrecen and La Rochelle Stops and twice lost to their French rivals.
Another memorable but not as joyful experience which helped them bond during the 2019 season was the epic Dora Medgyessy TISSOT Buzzer-beater at the World Cup.
"It was a really hard moment for us. We really thought that we could make it – for a medal. Hungary were an amazing team and if they beat us then they deserve it. From that moment, we watched the game and we analyzed and we became a better team. From that moment on, we became a real team. We discussed the mistakes and started building from that moment, and later won silver at the Europe Cup later that year."
The 1.86m (6ft. 1in.) Gimeno can do it all on the court (including no-look bounce passes).
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But she also takes on the responsibility of teaching incoming players not only rules but also the importance of the physicality, competitiveness, mindset and dynamic that make 3x3 unique.
Looking ahead at their OQT preparation, the Spanish team will be spending almost a month together with a practice squad of 8 girls and will also participate in 2 FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series.
They are pitted in Pool D with Switzerland, Italy (World Cup 2018 Winners), Chinese Taipei and Austria.
Gimeno mentioned that there are currently no thoughts on Tokyo, “Right now, we are just thinking about the Qualifier, it is the biggest moment of our sporting careers. What we want is to go Tokyo but first, you need to qualify.”
“In terms of the Pool, right now, our focus is on ourselves to feel good and have that feeling back about being a team. Then we can think about our opponents.”
Gimeno is excited to play again but also looking forward to post-Olympic world where more people will be aware of the game that she loves, “I loved it from the first day that I played it and I would be here even if 3x3 wasn’t at the Olympics. All my life, I have been dreaming about going to the Olympic Games. It’s an extra motivation but it’s not my main motivation for playing 3x3.”