Puerto Rico faces real test against US: ‘We know what we can expect of them’

With the guaranteed pass to the second round of the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup Qualifiers, the national team He is preparing to play on Friday and Monday the last two matches of Phase One knowing that nothing is guaranteed.

Paradoxical as it may seem, the fact that the coaching staff, headed by coach Nelson Colón, is on his mind, ahead of the matches against the United States tonight and against Mexico, next Monday, at Roberto Clemente Coliseum starting at 8:00. Evening: 00 pm.

Which is that the FIBA ​​qualifying formula states that the mark obtained by each team in the three windows of the first round, advancing to the second, is not only drawn upon progress but will also be added at the end to determine the seven teams from the Americas to be crossed out to The World Cup will be held in stadiums in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia from 25 August to 10 September 2023.

That’s why Cologne, the national team management and the 12 players know that every result counts and they can’t relax even if they’ve already advanced to the round.

Puerto Rico 2-2 Today when the United States, who top Group D with a record 3-1, as well as Mexico, face Puerto Rico on Monday.

“We are going to two important matches for us. We know what they mean. We play our part in the second round. We need to win both games. We know they are tough, but we don’t just come here to compete. We focus, we work and we give everything,” Colon said. The information and resources we have for the players to be ready for these two matches.”

The group was made up of ship owners Joseph AlvaradoGary Brown and Gisril de Jesus; escorts Jean Clavel and Javier Mojica. eaves Philip Wheeler and Justin Reyes. Strong attackers Chris Ortiz and Jordan Murphy; And centers Ismail Romero George Condit and Tima Parker.

“Team USA is a team that varies from window to window…a different talent. We’ve already identified it and are working with it. It’s our first commitment,” Colon added, speaking of the team that beat Puerto Rico 93-76 in Washington in the second window in November. .

Change half of the team

In fact, Puerto Rico also changed its workforce compared to that window, Only half repeat this time: Brown, de Jesus, Mujica, Ortiz, Romero and Parker.

Colon admits that with only three practices the 12 teams selected for this window will have, achieving the pairing is a challenge, especially when there are first-timers like Alvarado and Wheeler, and others like Clavell, who rejoin the national team after losing. The first two windows due to a knee injury.

Jose Alvarado trained individually last week before joining the rest of the national team, in private sessions with former NBA point guard Mike Pepe. (Xavier Araujo)

“Very difficult. We are in a technological age, if we use it to our advantage, it gives us a window. All the players are sent to the offensive system on video and in writing. We have (the app) ZOOM, and we have conversations with them. Because the topic of the national team explodes in a moment in time, this It doesn’t mean that we don’t work with players who submit information or when they play in other tournaments. We always maintain this channel of communication. This helps us. That’s why we have veterans who help us convey the message with young players.

Colon realized that at the same time having a rival team on the other side was a challenge that also shifted people from one tournament to another. This was expressed in relation to the United States, which on this occasion did not present former Inbesta player Joe Johnson or Matthew Ryan, the top scorers in the last game. The Americans have Jordan Peele, Langston Galloway, Justin Jackson, and Quinn Cook, among others.

It’s a strong team with players up and down from the NBA, who are in the G-League (Development League). And that we already had the experience of playing against them in Washington. We know what we can expect from them. This way we prepare ourselves. The ‘scouts’ are there, we know they played a (empty) match in Miami against the Dominican Republic and we’re working on that too. It’s an interesting group with great players, athletes, and mixed players who have come up and down from the NBA. They have experience, some of them have already been involved in Washington and it’s a well-balanced group.

When asked about the disadvantage of Puerto Rico’s elevation against the United States, the national pilot doesn’t worry much.

Philip Wheeler is one of two new arrivals for the national team this weekend at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum.
Philip Wheeler is one of two new arrivals for the national team this weekend at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. (Carlos Rivera Giusti/Staff)

“This is our situation. I think Condit, Ismael and Timahe give us strength, experience and bounce. You have to compliment them. We have always been young, and that has always been one of our flaws, but it has never been a problem for us. We know how to play that way, we adapt and we think we are strong and we have a chance.” “.

However, due to the fact that they will play at their home ground, Clemente, and Puerto Rico has a team of young players and athletes, the national team managers are motivated.

Good feelings with the talent of drawing

When asked what it means to have young players with good paint mobility like Conditt, Wheeler, Romero and others, Colon gave his opinion on his feelings in this regard.

“I don’t want to be unfair to others by saying this is better than the others. But this version is robust, with hybrid players, from different locations, which gives us this diversity of ability to move during the game in different scenarios when we need it.”

With the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico included in Group D, they will have to go through the second round of three additional windows with the best three from Group Two. Brazil and Uruguay have already secured their place in that group. The third will be between Chile and Colombia. The six teams will play in Group F. In Group E, the top three teams of A and C will play in the first round.

Puerto Rico will have to play two matches against each of the three new competitors it hasn’t faced yet. At the end of the qualifying process, the top three teams from groups E and F will be eliminated from their World Championship ticket, and the seventh through fourth ticket will go with the best record between those two groups.

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