Is time to sit down and analyze the status of basketball in Puerto Rico after the result of the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Athens, Greece.
During the preparation phase some players came to practice, at the start of the training the Superior League was still playing the Super 6 and then the finals. The league finished two weeks prior to the tournament in Athens.
The management of the national team arranged to play some series of warm up games against strong teams prior to the tournament in Athens. Those games were against Germany, Slovenia, Greece, New Zealand and Iran.
Puerto Rico had a 3-2 record in those warm up games but the only problem was that the whole team didn’t play together until the final stages of the itinerary. In part the absence of key players affected Puerto Rico’s performance in Athens.
First the commitment of the players to represent Puerto Rico and be in the practices from day 1 until the final game of any competition is key in order to have the best possible result out of any international event. Over the years Puerto Rico has performed well in the international stage but the local fans know the team can have a better result. The tendency has been to start slow and then show signs of their potential like in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship.
We have to accept that basketball is improving in all the regions in the World, including in Central America and the Caribbean. Many years ago Puerto Rico dominated the competition in regional tournament, but that is not the case anymore after a Bronze medal performance in the 2006 Centrobasket Tournament which forced us to play for the first time ever in the CBC Championship.
Also the national team has to invite more players to have a better view of all the talent available and make all of them feel that they have a chance to compete for a spot for any tournament.
In order to save basketball the local authorities have to sit down and analyze ways to improve basketball in every level and create a structured plan to run all the leagues and national teams. FIBA, among other organizations offer support to educate everyone in order to improve the level of basketball in the region. Everyone has to be a part of that transformation, from fans to sponsors to secure the future of basketball in our island.