The Colombian men’s basketball team faces a double date this month in what will be the sixth and last international window to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, which will be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Guillermo Morenose’s team has to see them with Mexico and Puerto Rico on February 23 and 26 respectively with the aim of finishing with good feelings. The coffee team no longer has options to be in the FIBA world event, but they want to show their fans that they are getting closer to fighting for one of those privileged positions.
He Ivan de Bedout Coliseum Medellín has been the venue chosen by FECOLCESTO to celebrate the two Group F duels and which allow Colombia to have an impact on who will continue with options to be in the World Cup. Both the Mexicans and the Puerto Ricans have a record of 6-4, even in the fight for third place, the last one that qualifies directly. The one left behind will choose to enter as the best fourth, although in the other group the level of victories is turning out to be higher.
For his part, the tricolor is in last position with three wins and seven losses in the ten games they have played, having lost the last three and being eliminated. The national team was very close to surprising against the United States in Washington (88-81), against which it is the top betting favorite to win this World Cup event in 2023. The bookmakers put the Americans with a quota 1.80, very far from those of other teams such as Spain, current champion and with quota 12.00, or Argentina, runner-up, with quota 40.00 and also with a limit situation in their group.
The Colombian squad has only been able to defeat Mexico (89-93) in this second phase and they had to do it in extra time. The other two victories came in the first round against Chile (67-66) and against Brazil (104-98), also in extra time. Both arrived in the last window of that initial key, which allows the people of Medellín to be optimistic for this final stretch of the South American qualifiers. It is true that the Boricuas are in good shape after their last two victories, but the Aztecs seem more vulnerable and under pressure to win. And that can play in favor of Colombia.
Moreno has already made his shortlist of 24 players that he will have to reduce and where the only thing that stands out is the absence of Tonny Trocha-Morelos compared to the last call. The star of the list will be again Brian Angola, the Turkish Karsiyaka Basket forward who is the leader of the qualifiers in points per game. But there are also other important players in the team block like the experienced captain Juan Diego Tello or the base Hansel Atencia, who currently plays in the second level in Spain with Estudiantes. Among young people mention Romario Roque, Alvaro Pena o John Duartethe latter a true American college basketball talent.
The fifteen selected will concentrate from next February 15 in search of two balsamic victories that reinforce the great advances that are taking place in Colombian basketball in recent years.
Good coffee data for the future
The fact of having managed to pass at least one round in a World Cup qualifier speaks well of what Colombia intends to do with its basketball. In the qualifiers for the 2019 tournament, the national team only managed one victory against the Chilean team in the first phase and was eliminated at the first opportunity.
This means that in these four years there has been progress whose goal is being able to be in the final phase, as happened in the 1982 World Cup. Then they entered as hosts and got rid of playing the preliminary phase. However, in the second round they could not win a single game in a very powerful group with rivals like the United States, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia or Spain.
Las participations in the FIBA AmeriCup They are also a good example, since when they entered the 2017 edition they could not win any match in the first round, despite being an organizer in their group in particular and in the tournament in general, along with Argentina and Uruguay. But if we go forward to the 2022 event, we see not only that Colombia managed to beat the Uruguayan team in the preliminary round, but also that it was very close to reaching the quarterfinals. A defeat against Canada by a single point in the final day prevented it.
To this must be added the continuity of the WPlay League, founded in 1988 and professionalized from 1992 with the Superior Division until 2001, where it returned to its invitational facet. Until 2013, also thanks to television rights contracts, it did not regain its official status. Now it is gaining more and more followers.
The clubs and even the educational centers themselves in Colombia try to instill basketball among the little ones, from tournaments such as the Basketball League in the department of César, to the Bolivarian Games in Valledupar. It is at events like these that the great stars of tomorrow begin to shine.