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Friday, June 21, 2024
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‘I felt like this had to be my place’: Paula Lopez on her first year as a Bull

Lopez balances playing for UB and representing Argentina internationally

Freshman guard Paula Lopez was one of two active Bulls to play in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) tournament. | Courtesy of Paul Hokanson
Freshman guard Paula Lopez was one of two active Bulls to play in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) tournament. | Courtesy of Paul Hokanson

As one of two active players that have represented their country in an International Basketball Federation (FIBA) tournament, freshman guard Paula Lopez brings a unique blend of experience to the UB women’s basketball team.

Lopez arrived at UB following the summer of 2022, where she averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game representing Argentina in the FIBA Under-17 World Cup tournament. She also competed with them in last year’s Under-19 tournament.

Although Lopez hails from Alicante, Spain, she chose to represent Argentina instead. “I feel like my culture [at home] is more Argentinian,” she said. “All my family is from there, and to me, it’s a goal to represent my family.”

Past experience is something that Lopez believes helped shape her development as a player. The balance in commitments between her international team and her collegiate responsibilities provided her with a unique perspective on the game.

“She brings a different flair and playing style,” said head coach Becky Burke, following Lopez’s arrival in November of that same year. “Her experience and ability to shoot the basketball are things that our team will greatly benefit from.”

The 2023-2024 season marked Lopez’s debut for UB, and despite the difficult transition, Lopez faced it head on and used it as an opportunity to hone her skills. Juggling her responsibilities to both her international team and the UB team is understandably challenging, but Lopez embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm, approaching each game and practice as a chance to learn and improve.

“It’s hard, but at the same time… you can use what you learn in other competitions,” she explained. “I don’t have rest because I’m here all year, then in the summer I’m [playing internationally]… but I’m a player, I want to play.” 

Reflecting on her first year at UB, Lopez noticed some differences between European and American basketball. 

“It's a fast type of game,” she said. “It’s a much more physical game here.”

Her decision to play for UB was a bold one. 

Prior to stepping foot on a basketball court while donning the royal blue and white colors of Buffalo, Lopez had never visited the university, or even the country. 

“I only had the meetings with the coach,” she explained. “I felt so comfortable talking with them, and I felt like this had to be my place.” 

Despite the initial sense of unfamiliarity, Lopez quickly immersed herself in the team dynamic and formed connections with the other players. “I love my teammates, it’s so easy to play with them,” she said. 

With her eyes set on victory and her commitment to continuous improvement, Paula Lopez is determined to leave a lasting impact on the UB women’s basketball program and hone her skills. 

“I want to win,” she said. “I want to go to the NCAA tournament and be a better leader.”

Henry Daley contributed to the reporting of this article.

Rodrigo is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at rodrigo.feijao@ubspectrum.com 

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