viernes, 28 de enero de 2011
Puerto Rico’s basketball team will be part of Group B in hemispheric qualifying tournament
(This article was published on The Daily Sun's printed edition.)
January 28, 2011
Mar del Plata, Argentina
Puerto Rico will face the powerful basketball representation of Argentina in the first round of the 2011 FIBA-Americas qualifying tournament to be celebrated this upcoming northern summer (winter in the south) on the eastern coastal Argentinean city of Mar del Plata.
A delightful ceremony held at a hotel located in the same city that will host the games was used to decide the distribution of the ten teams from the American hemisphere that will compete for the only two direct spots available for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.
The Puerto Rican men’s national basketball team will be part of Group B, along with Uruguay, Paraguay, Panamá, and the host country Argentina.
For Carlos Beltrán, President of the Puerto Rican Basketball Federation (PRBF), the selection was positive for the island’s representation.
“To begin the tournament, the selection was correct. It was positive. In the end, if you want to make it to the final, beating every team is a must. I believe the beginning of the tournament will be less difficult based on my experience seeing some of these (Group B) teams in recent tournaments”, expressed an optimist Beltrán.
After the tournament’s first round, the teams with the best four records from Group B will meet the top four representations from Group A, composed by Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela.
For Puerto Rico, this will be the first international basketball tournament played under Rick Pitino’s coaching.
A team led by NBA players José Juan Barea and Carlos Arroyo will battle for the difficult task of receiving a direct pass to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
“If we can advance to the second round with a 2-1 record, that would put us in a good position to advance to the finals considering the possibility of finishing that second round undefeated”, commented Jenaro “Tuto” Marchand, former President of the PRBF and emeritus member of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
The Mar del Plata tournament will also serve as a national farewell competition for Argentina’s “Golden Generation.” Players like Emanuel Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), Andrés Nocioni (Philadelphia Sixers), Luis Scola (Houston Rockets), Carlos Delfino (Milwaukee Bucks), and others known basketball athletes will probably play their last FIBA-Americas contest together.
Brazil is also considered one of the favorite teams to obtain one of the two available Olympic passes. They are expected to come to this qualifying tournament with internationally known stars such as Nene Hilario (Denver Nuggets), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers), Leandro Barbosa (Toronto Raptors), and other players currently active in European leagues.
Those teams that finish the hemispheric championship between the third and fifth positions will have a second opportunity to obtain the right to participate in the London Olympics. Another qualifying tournament will be celebrated in 2012 with representations from all the FIBA World regions.
The Mar del Plata qualifying tournament, to be played from August 30th until September 11th, will not have a representation from the United States of America. Team USA won the right to participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics by winning the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Rafael R. Díaz Torres
The Daily Sun
(The photo is from Primera Hora - Puerto Rican newspaper)