USF sophomore guard Ariadna Pujol returned to play for her native country this summer. As a member of Spain’s under-20 national team, Pujol is still in Italy following the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) European Championship.
This is not the first time Pujol has been part of a FIBA tournament. She previously won the European Championship with her under-16 team and helped lead the under-17 team to a second-place finish in the 2012 FIBA World Cup.
She has played internationally before, but this is the first time she has played following a season with the Bulls. While Pujol is accustomed to European basketball, she said she felt stronger after practicing and playing in the U.S.
The tournament gave Pujol’s family the chance to once again see her play in person. But relatives weren’t the only familiar faces in the crowd when she stepped on the court.
USF coach Jose Fernandez was on a European recruiting tour and decided to stop in Italy to watch her play.
“I loved seeing him again,” Pujol said. “He watched me, supported me, and had the chance to meet with my parents.”
Pujol said she enjoyed coming back to Spain to see her former teammates and friends.
Spain beat most of its opponents by roughly 15 points. Pujol got most of her minutes early in the tournament, finishing with an average of 2.1 points and 1 rebound per game.
Though Spain lost to France in the finals and Pujol didn’t have much statistical impact, she hopes to one day represent her country in the Olympics.
Playing for Spain also paired her with Laia Flores, a new fellow Bull whom Fernandez recruited for the upcoming year, on the same team. Flores was also playing as a member of Spain’s under-18 team.
Pujol returns home in late August to rejoin USF for the upcoming season.