Eulis-Baez-09-09-2013The Dominican Republic , Argentina and Mexico on Sunday joined Puerto Rico in qualifying for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The four teams compiled the best records in the Second Round of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas, Venezuela to advance to Tuesday’s Semi-Finals. Argentina will take on Mexico, before Puerto Rico face the Dominican Republic to determine who will play in Wednesday’s Championship Game.

On Sunday, the last day of the Second Round, the Dominicans worked had to beat Uruguay, 81-72, and claim the second qualifying spot for Spain 2014.

Puerto Rico had secured the first on Saturday.

Jack Michael Martinez led the attack for the Dominicans with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Francisco Garcia had 13.

Esteban Batista paced Uruguay with 21 points and 13 points.

The Dominican Republic finished the Second Round with five wins and two losses, good enough for 12 points and finishing second behind Mexico.

Head coach Orlando Antigua talked about what it meant to qualify for next year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup.

“We are very excited about qualifying to the World Cup. Our entire group and the federation of our country is very happy to have met the goal and now have a ticket to Spain,” he said.

“I am proud because both the players and the leadership trusted me in giving me this opportunity.”

The Dominican Republic last played in FIBA’s flagship event back in 1978.

“The team work done by the players was amazing. We are here because they decided that Dominican basketball needed to be recognized by the world. They made the decision to let the past in the past.”

In a win or go home game, the talented Canadian team – with six NBA players – could not make it happen against an inspired and more experienced Argentinian team, losing 73-67 to miss out on qualifying for Spain 2014.

Luis Scola exploded in the third period and finished with a game-high 28 points, while sharpshooter Selem Safar came off the bench to chip in with 18. Cory Joseph led Canada with 19 points and Andrew Nicholson added 17.

With the win, Argentina finished fourth in the Second Round, good enough to grab the last qualifying place on offer for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. It extends their run of consecutive appearances in the world class tournament to eight. They last failed to play in it back in 1982.

“I am very pleased to have qualified for the World Cup in Spain,” Scola said afterward.

“Now comes the second step, which is to fight for the championship. To leave here as champions is a goal in all circumstances and with Argentina not being a team that has 50 titles, to win the title is important.”

The game between Puerto Rico and Mexico had little at stake as both teams had already qualified for the Semi-Finals and consequently punched their tickets to Spain 2014.

Consequently, the Puerto Ricans did not play their best players and Mexico rested some of theirs but still had enough fire power to win the contest 66-59. Mexico finished first in the group, with Puerto Rico third.

Mexico last played in the FIBA World Championship back in 1974.

“We are very happy with how we finished. This is very important for Mexican basketball,” Mexico head coach Sergio Valdeolmillos said of his team’s qualification.

“Hopefully this World Cup qualifying helps the political forces once and for all to have basketball and organizational conditions.

“For me it is wonderful. We came with a clear objective to raise our level of play, mainly because Mexico does not have a background in basketball. But it is true that the wins over Dominican Republic and Venezuela made us believe we could compete on equal footing with the other teams.”

In the last game of the Second Round, eliminated Venezuela and Jamaica played hard for the honor of the crowd in ‘El Poliedro’ Coliseum, with the hosts winning 95-85.

Hector ‘Pepito’ Romero played his heart out for the locals, finishing with 23 points, while Donta Smith was sensational with 20. Patrick Ewing Jr had 16 points to lead five Jamaican players in double figures.


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