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Fitipaldo believes Magnano hiring great for Uruguay
BURGOS (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers) - Uruguay made big headlines in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers with the hiring of Ruben Magnano as their new national team head coach. Veteran point guard Bruno Fitipaldo is thrilled to have the Argentine playcaller on the sidelines going into the final two windows.
The 64-year-old Magnano was brought in to replace Marcelo Signorelli, who guided Uruguay to a 5-3 record in Group E of the Americas Qualifiers - good for fourth place.
"It's great news for Uruguayan basketball. Not just for the team, but even for the federation," said the 27-year-old Fitipaldo. "Having this kind of coach will make everyone better. He has a lot of experience and quality."
Magnano's coaching accolades include a runners-up finish at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002, a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games and the title at the FIBA AmeriCup 2001 with the Argentina national team. He also led Brazil to second place at the AmeriCup 2011.
Uruguay's first games under Magnano will be in the fifth window, when they host Puerto Rico on November 29 and United States on December 2.
"We will try to make him feel comfortable as soon as possible. It’s an honor for me to play for him," Fitipaldo said.
The 6ft 1in (1.85m) playmaker said Uruguay are ready to fight hard to get back to the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
"IT'S GREAT NEWS FOR URUGUAYAN BASKETBALL. NOT JUST FOR THE TEAM, BUT EVEN FOR THE FEDERATION. HAVING HIS KIND OF COACH WILL MAKE EVERYONE BETTER. HE HAS A LOT OF EXPERIENCE AND QUALITY."
"We are so motivated to get to the play the next World Cup and this would be so big for Uruguay after many years without going there," said Fitipaldo, who has played four AmeriCups for Uruguay.
The blue and white are still alive in the race for a China 2019 ticket. Uruguay are even on record with Puerto Rico, who are 5-3 and in third place in Group E. The top three finishers from each group book a spot in next summer’s World Cup as well as the top fourth place team among the two groups.
After losing 114-57 to the United States, Uruguay earned a huge win in the September window as they beat Mexico at home 63-60, coming back from a 15-point deficit to move two victories ahead of now 3-5 Mexico.
"It was a very tough game. They played better than us most of the time. But we fought until the end, and we closed the game better," said Fitipaldo, who grabbed a crucial rebound and made a free throw late in the game. "It was a key game for both teams. If we had lost that game, our chances to qualify would have been worse."
Fitipaldo picked up 7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in the Mexico game and has averaged 13.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in five games in the Americas Qualifiers.
The final Americas Qualifiers window has Uruguay travelling to Mexico on February 22 and finishing the qualification campaign at Puerto Rico on February 25.
Fitipaldo and Uruguay will have the added advantage of having Magnano on the sidelines.