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Oppenheimer full of confidence after triumphant debut
VALDIVIA (2016 FIBA U18 Americas Women) - Puerto Rico opened the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship with a big 88-74 win over the home team Chile. In the victory, newcomer guard Nicolette Oppenheimer came out on fire from long distance.
It was a close game for the first ten minutes of play but a big 21-10 second quarter was enough to give Puerto Rico a comfortable lead throughout. Oppenheimer led the game with 23 points including seven from long range.
Oppenheimer spoke to FIBA.com after the win.
FIBA.com: Great first win for the team against the host. Give us a comment about winning in the opener.
Oppenheimer: I thought the whole team played really hard. This was an important game for us. We wanted to win the first one to get a good start in this tournament.
FIBA.com: Puerto Rico had big expectations coming into the tournament. What changes with this first win and to be able to do it in front of a big crowd?
Oppenheimer: It definitely gives us more confidence since we had way less fans here. But we knew that all of our families were watching at home online. That helps us, it reminds us that the love and good vibes are there for the team. This win is very good for getting us ready for the next game.
FIBA.com: Your performance in the opener was special. Seven three-pointers and very effective from the opening tip-off. What can you tell us about it?
Oppenheimer: We’ve been working really hard in practice and I’ve been focusing on my shot trying to get it perfect. Today I came out and just wanted to play ball for the team. They went it and I kept on shooting.
FIBA.com: How much do emotions come into play when you debut in an international competition such as this one where you are representing your country?
Oppenheimer: It was definitely a very different game than I’ve played before. To play in front of this big crowd and knowing we are doing it for a national team. We were all feeding off of the energy. It was incredible.
FIBA.com: How did you fell in love for the game, for playing basketball?
Oppenheimer: Basketball has been in my family for a really long time. My dad is a coach and my cousin is actually playing for Puerto Rico in the men’s edition of this tournament (Ethan Thompson). It is really a family tradition. It’s part of our heritage.
FIBA.com: Tomorrow you play Mexico. What are your expectations for the game?
Oppenheimer: They are a really good team judging from the great tournament they put up last year (in the Centrobasket U17). I wasn’t on the team last year but when they played us it was a really tough game and I know it’ll be even tougher knowing we are getting closer and closer to achieving our dream of qualifying for the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship. That is our goal and we’ll give everything to make it happen.