FIBA Oceania

11/05/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/05/2019 09:20

Women's basketball in Colombia keeps making history

MEDELLIN (Colombia) - Historically, the best results in Colombian basketball have been brought in by the women's National teams - a South American title by the senior team, another one in youth categories, and in recent years, appearances in the Pan American Games, the U17 and U19 World Cups. Now, from November 14 to 17, in Bahia Blanca (Argentina), the senior team will seek a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. These achievements are evidence of the good moment that Colombian women's basketball is currently experiencing.

The Colombian Basketball Federation (FCB), affiliated to FIBA since 1939, keeps working permanently in the youth categories of the nation's basketball to be able to bring it back and reach its objectives. Being again in a FIBA Basketball World Cup or the Olympic Games are two of them.

Colombia's women's basketball has a long history of experienced players like Lebys Torres and Erika Valek, who are no longer playing, but at a point in time were drafted by WNBA teams. Their biotype and the experience they gave national women's teams in the country have been particularly effective in recent years.

Now's the time for the U17 national team that, in the northern city of Barranquilla, will represent Colombia in the category's South American Championship, starting on Monday, November 4 at the Elías Chegwin Coliseum. Expectations regarding this group are high. They've had a proper and methodical preparation with a good selection phase that allowed national team coach Yesid Riveros to closely watch the most talented players in the category and choose the best group possible of young athletes for the competition.

The camp was on October 15 in Bogotá, like all micro-cycles that took place in the capital to get used to the height and to running with no problems. There had never been such a long and extensive preparation, which included gathering statistics.

The idea of the squad led by Riveros is to repeat the feat that the senior national team achieved - also in Barranquilla - of winning the gold medal in the Central American and Caribbean Games of 2018. The first time a feat like this has been achieved in Colombian basketball.

This national team has several strengths aside from their preparation: being locals is always an important factor, as is the players' biotype. It's a big team, particularly in the front line. There are three experienced players in the group, such as Naylee Cortés, who attended a U17 World Cup and 4 South American championships; Daniela González, who has already been in two World Cups and five South American championships; and Belén Morales, who lives in Spain and studies and plays in CD Promete. They also feature Gabriela Bendeck, who for a year and a half has lived in the United States and studies and plays for the Miami Christian School.

Mr. Riveros has ample experience with national teams and has even been a professional Colombian basketball champion. Now, he takes on this challenge because he understands the responsibility it entails. He's also aware that the competition will be tougher than in previous years because Brazil is back in South American Championships and because of Argentina's presence. However, he trusts his work and the group of people he leads. The players' confidence is in its best moment, so Colombia aims high and the Barranquilla fans expect to see their national team be crowned as the continental champions.

'The Federation has undergone a big development transformation. We've been able to have some successes that we hadn't seen in the history of Colombian basketball, such as qualifying to World Cups; being Juegos Bolivarianos, Central American and South American champions; and also hosting continental and international tournaments in Colombia and having national teams in younger categories that today are acknowledged,' said Jorge Armando García, President of the Colombian Basketball Federation, to FIBA.basketball.

This national team began preparing in May, with an initial call for 30 players of the Colombian league that participated in 4 micro-cycles organized by the Colombian Basketball Federation. Like this, Riveros chose 12 players for the tournament and built a homogeneous team with players from all parts of Colombia (Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Bogotá, Valle del Cauca, and Atlántico).

'This is a great opportunity for Colombian basketball to achieve the change with this group. There's a rebuilding process that must take place with the players. The Federation must focus on that new process. This South American Championship could be the beginning of a new era. We've worked for a long time to get the World Cup Qualifiers' qualification and get to the Olympic Games, which would be the most important achievement for Colombian basketball,' the coach added.

'Having gone to two World Cups on our own is a significant achievement, but Colombia, with our biotype and level, could qualify to the Olympic Games starting with this cycle that starts in the U17 group. Success comes with continuity. It doesn't matter if we're in a South American Championship if the team falls apart and we don't achieve continuity. That can be done with the resources that the Federation finds to keep this process going forward,' he commented.

The technical staff also has Colombian coach Yahir De Ávila, who's always been with men's teams and has experience in South American Championships and several national titles. He'll face this new challenge with the women's team, who are decidedly going to try to win in front of their people.

'Expectations are high. We believe everything the Federation does is to be able to be in a World Cup or the Olympic Games. This is our main objective and FIBA has acknowledged so through their Development Program, where they've included Colombia among the 13 countries of the world that are under development. We're working very hard to achieve our goals,' said Federation President Jorge Armando García to FIBA.basketball.

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