Argentina are number one in the FIBA World Rankings for Men but if they want to stay there, new talent must emerge.

With number-two ranked Team USA favorites to capture the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the pressure is on the Argentinians.

One Argentinian youngster showing a lot of promise is Juan Manuel Fernandez, a guard that has followed in the footsteps of former Argentina international Pepe Sanchez by playing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

A 1.92m point guard, Fernandez led Temple with 18 points on Sunday and hit a clutch three-pointer in overtime of the Owls’ 68-64 victory over Rhode Island.

Temple snapped the Rams’ eight-game winning streak.

Fernandez’s biggest shot of his college career came when Temple were clinging to a 62-61 lead with 28 seconds remaining.

Just as Sanchez did before him in Philadelphia, Fernandez kept his cool and buried a three-pointer to put his team in command for good.

“Fernandez’s three at the end was extraordinary,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.

Fernandez is the son of legendary Argentina guard Gustavo “Lobito” Fernandez.

The youngster represented his country at the FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand last summer and showed his all-round game, averaging 8.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds in just under 23 minutes per game.

The experience clearly boosted his confidence because in his second season at Temple, Fernandez is thriving.

He was named as the Conference’s Player of the Month for December.

“This year, I am playing as a starter and to bring more help to the backcourt,” he said.

“That’s why I shoot more and score more points. With respect to last year, we have lost our top scorer and the key was how we were going to overcome his absence.

“No one expected that we would be in this position right now, ranked 25th in the country.”

The added bonus for Fernandez is that he is not only playing basketball but also getting his college degree.

“In this four years, the idea is not only for me to play but to study,” Fernandez said.

“I am going to study journalism starting next semester. To have come here is the best decision I’ve made.”

If Fernandez continues to play well, he could wind up on Argentina’s national side at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

At the big event, the South American giants will take on Serbia, Australia, Angola, Germany and Jordan in Preliminary Round Group A.


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