The commitment of manager Gerardo “Jerry” Batista and his team to the recruitment of players of Puerto Rican descent and the financial aid provided by the local Basketball Federation to the project have been fundamental for Puerto Rico to be, today, among the eight best teams in the World Cup being played in Australia.
This was the opinion of two former members of the national team after the National Team achieved last Monday the historic pass to the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup.
The Puerto Ricans, who made their World Cup debut in Tenerife, Spain in 2018 without a win in three games, defeated South Korea 92-73 to secure their place in the tournament’s best eight. They will play against Canada at 12:30 a.m., Puerto Rico time, this Thursday for the ticket to the semifinals.
Puerto Rico finished the first round with 2-3. On the first day, they dispatched Bosnia and Herzegovina 82-58 before being knocked out 106-42 by the United States, the defending champion and number one in the FIBA world rankings. They bounced back with a hard-fought loss to Belgium (5), 68-65, a stark contrast to the beating received (86-36) by the Belgians in the 2018 edition.
Against China (7), Batista kept his best weapons for the duel against the Koreans, a strategy that gave the historic result.
“I think this has been the greatest achievement in the history of the women’s basketball team,” said Yanira Liceaga, a former basketball player for the National Team and former vice president of the Federation.
PHOTOS | Meet the 12 Puerto Ricans who made history in the Basketball World Cup.
“The desire they give me is to cry for what it has cost to get there. To the past administration and the current one. To federation leaders, to coaches who are basketball workers, and to generations of women who were never taken into consideration. As Jerry Batista said: what else is there to do? These last few years define women’s basketball. Now it’s like the culmination (of all the work). It is a delight to see it,” added Liceaga.
Before the World Cup, Puerto Rico played in its first Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. In 2021, it won an unprecedented silver medal in the AmeriCup tournament held at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. In addition, the national team is the defending champion of Centrobasket. In the world ranking, the National Team is seventeenth, better position than the men’s program, which dropped this week to 22nd place.
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