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The AmeriCup, a new start for Colombian basketball

by Constanza Mora Pedraza, AIPS Member, Colombia

MEDELLÍN, Colombia August 28, 2017. - Medellín lived and breathed basketball. The Iván de Bedout coliseum vibrated with what has been the most important continental men's basketball tournament for Colombia in recent years – the AmeriCup. Although the host nation did not manage to make it out of Group A and into the next round, the national team put in a good sporting performance and made basketball fans in the country proud.

It is no secret that Colombia was never a favourite for winning titles, on the contrary it has often been treated as the "weak" rival, however little by little, despite the big limitations that Colombian sport has, the same players started believing in their potential. This was demonstrated in the AmeriCup tournament were the warm city of Medellín saw Colombia host the national teams of Brazil, Mexico and Puerto Rico. "This event was positive from every point of view, as this was the first time we participated in this tournament, so we took a step up. Now what we have to do is to work hard to get the next step, which is to qualify for the second round in tournaments like this and to be able to climb positions at international level, the work was definitely very positive". Said Tomás Díaz, Coach Assistant.

Being the hosts gave them a great responsibility and they were not too far from achieving their goal. Their debut was against BRASIL, team that had Cesar Guidetti as a new coach and that came to Medellín with its hope laid on the young players. Their participation was in doubt due to federal inconveniences that led to the suspension of the team within FIBA, but it was taken off before the tournament, so they arrived in Colombia with the illusion of going back to the honoured positions, since its performance in Caracas 2013 and Mexico City 2015 did not allow them to reached the second round. 10 out of 12 players, plays in the local tournament and were joined by Bruno Caboclo from Toronto Raptors and Georginho de Paula from Houston Rockets.

The final score: 76-74 for the Brazilians

On the other side COLOMBIA also had players that plays in the National Professional League and who have had experience in international tournaments like the Liga de las Américas and the South American Cup, but also they could count on Juan Diego Tello the most experienced player of the team, who plays in Europe, finishing the season in Turkey and ready to go back to Lithuania where he already played. For the Colombians it has been a new story, and after all they are optimistic since for the first time in a senior national team, the players who are part of the intercollegiate basketball in the United States, were called, a big step for building the future in this sports, as coach Guillermo Moreno mentioned several times, they were: Braian Angola, Tonny Trocha, Hanner Mosquera, Jhan Paul Mejía and Hansel Atencia. "To have the players that come from international universities is something used in all the national teams, we were so fortunate to have all of them since the beginning, but in the end two of them were not part of the selected 12, however they are not out, they will be part of the process later, but undoubtedly this was very good, all this was done with the effort being made by the Colombian Federation and the Ministry of Sports”.

PUERTO RICO also decide to bet on new young players under Eddie Cassiano´s coaching, who prior to the competition said that it would be a difficult tournament because of the lack of experience of most of its players, as the team had a total of 6 players who debuted in the Senior National Team.

The final score: 91-72 for the Puerto Ricans

The last Colombian game was against MEXICO winner of this Group A and also continental champion in 2013. The Mexicans were the favourites since the beginning because of their good results in this decade and in Medellin they kept the favouritism, showing a good balance between mental and sports skills. This national team is used to win, has been among others silver medal in the Panamerican Games 2011 and Centrobasket 2014 champion

Prior to this tournament the FIBA ​​ranking was as follow:

07. Brazil

17. Puerto Rico

19. Mexico

Colombia without ranking

Group A results:

Puerto Rico 66-69 Mexico

Brazil 76-74 Colombia

Mexico 99-76 Brazil

Colombia 72-91 Puerto Rico

Brazil 80-89 Puerto Rico

Mexico 82-70 Colombia

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