Now or never – It’s a do-or-die situation for Mexico in the upcoming FIBA Americas Tournament in Puerto Rico.
After a very weak performance at the last year’s Centrobasket and the debacle in their aim to host the FIBA Americas Tournament, the country seeks a successful campaign in San Juan in late August to further develop the sport in Mexico. Eduardo Najera finally agreed to play for the national-team again after years of absence due to the dispute with former basketball federation-president Jorge Touissant.
Joining him will be Indiana Pacers-guard Earl Watson, whose mother is Mexican and who has to be integrated into the existing roster since it’s his premiere in the green-red-white jersey.
With frequently called up players such as Romel Beck (Just concluded a stint with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas), Omar Quintero (A veteran guard with playing experience in Spain, Venezuela and Puerto Rico) and Chris Hernandez (Helped Valladolid to a first-place finish in the LEB Gold), the backcourt is already loaded.
Equally stacked is the frontcourt headlining Najera while Gustavo Ayon (Fuenlabrada, ACB) and Adam Parada (Minnesota, NBA Summer League) may fight for minutes in the post. Veterans Horacio Llamas and Victor Avila may come off the bench in their last big tournament while a bunch of younger forwards including Hector Hernandez (Fresno State) are ready to take over in the near future.
A crucial test for Mexico will be coming up in Mid-August when the CoCaBa Championships are going down in Cancun (10-14th of August).
Panama, who slipped into the FIBA Americas Tournament after the forfeit of Cuba, is probably going against Mexico in Cancun and the possible match-up in the finals should be an indicator how well-prepared the Mexicans are and if Coach Arturo Guerrero was able to build a team around Najera who is coming back off an injury plagued season in New Jersey.
The possibility of grabbing one of four spots available for the World Championships is finally there and never has been better for the Mexicans, and it is also the last chance for fans to see Najera in a Mexican basketball jersey as well as such players as Llamas, Avila and Mariscal. The grouping is also in favor for Mexico with Canada, Uruguay and the Virgin Islands being equal competitors while Puerto Rico looks certainly as a favorite to win it all on their home turf.
The toughest part comes in the second round where countries like Argentina, Brazil and upcoming Dominican Republic could be facing Mexico.
If Mexico survives this stage by managing to secure one of the top four places, Turkey 2010 will become reality.
Now it’s up to the coaches to transform this great group of individuals into a team that possesses a functioning hierarchy, much need enthusiasm and the will to win the tournament.
I’m out like not being qualified for the World Champs since 1974.