Venezuela’s fearless and determined performances at last summer’s Rio Olympics won them a lot of basketball neutrals.
Their showing in Brazil against the world’s best, USA, France, Serbia, Australia and China saw them soar up the FIBA world rankings, moving up seven places to 15th following the Olympics.
And Venezuelan point guard Heissler Guillent wants that to continue as the South American nation continue their rise up the international ladder ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers as they prepare to face off against Columbia, Chile and an additional qualifier.
— Venezuela Basket (@VenezuelaBasket) May 7, 2017
“Each country will be able to see their national team play official matches in their country,” said Guillent. “That’s important, because it will generate the fans’ interest and help spread basketball.
“Obviously, it’s something new for us. We should wait and see how we can work to this new system, especially when players are playing in different countries. We must adapt and see how we will make the preparations for the games. However, I think it’s something to test.
“I feel that it is the opportunity to qualify and it is very motivating for the different teams,” the point guard added. “In 2013, regrettably, we couldn’t qualify for the World Cup in Spain. We were very close to entering among the best four teams of the Americas.
“Now we have more concrete chances and we must make the maximum effort to reach China 2019. It will not be easy, but with hard work and commitment I know that Venezuela can do it.”
Before the qualifiers tip-off though, Guillent and Venezuela will be defending their FIBA AmeriCup crown that they won in 2015 in Argentina.
The Venezuelans face stiff competition to begin their campaign though, as they are housed in Group B alongside Virgin Islands, hosts Argentina and Canada, stating on August 27.