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PUR - Piculin to turn to politics

SAN JUAN (National Team) - Former Puerto Rico star Jose 'Piculin' Ortiz has announced his official candidature to be senator in next year's parliamentary election.

Ortiz, who also played for Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, is bidding to be a member of parliament with the Democratic Popular Party (PPD).

'Piculin' has long been an idol in Puerto Rican basketball, having played in three Olympic Games (Barcelona '92, Atlanta '96 and Athens '04).

The highlight of his last Olympics was a memorable defeat of the United States 'Dream Team' - a side packed full of NBA heroes.

And the 43-year-old is now vowing to deliver off the court.

"I want to turn my words into facts, not just keep them in words," he said. "I work in a team, rejecting individualism and being tolerant. I come here to bring myself to the country."

Ortiz will focus his attention particularly on the issues of sports, education and health.

"I'm here as a Puerto Rican, not a PPD member," he said. "Although fans may be surprised by my decision, I will do my best.

"I will contribute new, straightforward projects. I really didn't want to stay criticising in the stands."

Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo Vila, is backing Ortiz as he considers the former center "one of the voices to make the country organise the best-ever Central America and the Carib Sport Games in Mayaguez in 2010".

Ortiz was working as a TV commentator covering the Puerto Rican BSN league, with an offer to move to ESPN Sports in the future.

He had played for Barcelona and Aris among other teams. Great player.
I remember watching him play in the Olympics.