Basketball: a window, new opportunities

Basketball: a window, new opportunities
Fecha de publicación: 
15 February 2024
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A series of windows scheduled by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to qualify for the 2025 Americas Cup will kick off later this month. This is the most important tournament for Cuba’s basketball in the near future, after being eliminated from the qualifying process to Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Our team will face the tournament with two new reinforcements: Reynaldo García and Howard Sant Roos, who may well round up the starting lineup of a team coached by Osmel Planas.

The full roster has not been released yet, but these two names will mix just fine with fixed players like Jasiel Rivero, Yoel Cubillas, Yoenki Mencía, Karel Guzmán, Marcos Chacón, Pedro Bombino, and Sigfredo Casero Jr, in addition to players with outstanding performances in our local tournament.

Planas — will coach the national team for the first time — is responsible for handling properly the physical wear of his pupils, as many of these players play no more than 20 minutes a game in their clubs, to later play 40 minutes in international events.

In other words, it is great they come fresh to play, but it is imperative to handle the substitution accordingly, which was mishandled by the former management. Consequently, our team was ahead in the score at the beginning of every game to later drop the advantages and end losing, as our leading players had no legs strength to run or even got injured in the process since they had to face something they were not used to before.

Jasiel is the leader of this project, but he needs to be surrounded well by young Bombino and Cubillas, who is another versatile player and has performed pretty solid in his first games playing abroad.

That power on the rim has to be one of the strengths of the Antillean team, combined with the speed for offensive transitions, to try to make up for the lack of consistent shooters from the perimeter, which will be our Achilles heel, even more so in the midst of the Era of Triple.

The counterattack would then be one of our main weapons, but it must be combined with good defense, the other big problem of late along with the lousy effectiveness percentage from the free throw line.

The latter is trained to the point of exhaustion and has to be an automated reflex, there is no other option, and the defensive schemes are also worked on in detail in the team concentrations. In the case of Cuba, it is paramount the defense against tricky movements, which no coaching staff has been able to find a solution so far.

The position of the point guard is also key, because the lack of clear ideas in attack sometimes leads to desperate shots and losing possessions, even in moments where apparently there is not much pressure. And ultimately, these are points that are missed in the final stage of each game.

The path of Cuba in pool D begins on the 22nd against the toughest rival, the United States, a match that must be taken as preparation for the most accessible rivals in the pool, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

We will return to the topic later, when we may confirm if these new elements strengthen our window, or not.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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