PUR - Boricuas focus on themselves, not rivals
SAN JUAN (FIBA Americas Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - The 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas is going to be a humdinger of a tournament.
It will be an all-out fight from start to finish as several quality national teams try to capture medals, and claim places at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
To reach next year’s 24-team event in Spain, a top-four finish in Venezuela will be required.
Puerto Rico are without a doubt a team that will be the reckoning for honors this summer.
After the second phase is complete, the four teams at the top of the standings will clinch places in the World Cup.
Argentina (3rd) and Brazil (9th) are ranked higher than Puerto Rico, while Venezuela (24th), Canada (26th) and the Dominican Republic (27th) all have very competitive sides.
Puerto Rican Basketball Federation President Carlos Beltran says the national team must be mentally strong this summer.
"If we want to be a power, we have to win against everyone," he said.
"We have high expectations and we are not going to be worried about our opponents. They can worry about us."
Hard times of late
Puerto Rico have a lot of tradition in the sport, with one of their most memorable victories coming at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Puerto Rico finished sixth in Greece, but haven’t made an impact in the major events since.
The Boricuas fell three spots to 19th in the latest FIBA Rankings for Men.
Beltran said in an interview with primerahora.com that national team coach Flor Melendez will have the players for more than a month of preparation for the FIBA Americas Championship.
Puerto Rico are hoping to have some newcomers to the national team set-up, players in the America college ranks - Kevin Young (Kansas), Devon Collier (Oregon State) and Matt Lopez (Utah State).
“Those guys said they want to come,” Beltran said.
“Now, we are working with the mothers of Shabazz Napier (Connecticut) and Moe Harkless (Orlando Magic), to know if they are available.”