SALAMANCA (2010 FIBA World Championship for Women) - There is no place more fitting to host a warm-up tournament ahead of this year’s FIBA World Championship for Women in the Czech Republic than Salamanca.
One of the oldest cities in Spain, Salamanca is home to the Casa de las Conchas, a stunning plaza, a university that first opened in 1218 and an incredible basketball club.
Perfumerias Avenida routinely plays host to big basketball games, whether it's in the Liga Femenina or the EuroLeague.
Just two season ago, Salamanca hosted the EuroLeague Final Four and put many of basketball's leading international players on stage, including USA superstar Diana Taurasi.
She would go on to earn MVP honors after leading Spartak Moscow Region to that European crown.
Taurasi is back in Salamanca only this time not as a member of the Russian club, but with Team USA - the number one side in the FIBA World Rankings.
At a press conference to publicize the Torneo De Salamanca, which also includes Australia, Senegal and hosts Spain, Taurasi was called the greatest player in the world by Spain’s most recognizable superstar, Amaya Valdemoro.
Taurasi looked at Valdemoro and then turned to reporters and showed she hasn't lost her sense of humility.
"I don't like to say that a player is the best in the world because there are many players that do a lot for their teams and Amaya is one of them," Taurasi said.
Taurasi and Valdemoro met only six days ago in Connecticut, with the USA beating Spain 85-69.
The two players have been adversaries for several years, both with their national teams and in the EuroLeague Women.
On Friday, the United States will take on Australia – the reigning world champions – and Spain will face Senegal.
The winners of those two games will square off on Saturday with the losers also meeting.
"The national team players are very happy to participate in this tournament here in Salamanca," the 34-year-old Valdemoro said.
Calling it "the city with the most fans in Spain" – Valdemoro should know since she once played there – the veteran added: "You deserve a tournament like this."