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The Dominican Republic are confident their defense and speed will get them the World Cup ticket
SANTO DOMINGO (FIBA Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers 2019) — The Dominican Republic's national team will have the chance to get even after their two painful losses in the second stage of the World Cup Qualifiers. If they do so, they’ll secure their return to the greatest stage in international basketball.
After 10 games, the Dominicans hold a 6-4 record in Group F and this week they’ll welcome Venezuela and Brazil at their capital's Palacio de los Deportes for the sixth —and last— FIBA Basketball World Cup in China Qualifying Window. If they manage to get both victories, the Dominican Republic would achieve their second world ticket in a row, and the third in their history.
In their away games against their South American rivals in the second part of the continental qualifiers, the Caribbean side suffered the worst part after losing by a point against Venezuela in the overtime at Valencia. Then, against the Brazilians in São Paulo, they fell by 18. During this window, the Dominican side will have the chance to get back at them and, at the same time, write a new chapter in their country's sports history.
“Each one of the members of the national team knows the responsibility that’s on our shoulders and I think that the key will be to stay together and focused on the same objective. Let's have some fun and give our country the qualification,” said coach Melvyn López to FIBA.
As part of Group F's action, the Dominican Republic will welcome Venezuela on Thursday and on Monday, they’ll receive Brazil. López is focused on that first match against the Venezuelans. Winning this game, if combined with losses by Uruguay and Puerto Rico the next day in Group E, would give the Dominicans the qualification to China 2019.
“We're going to impose our defensive game and our speed on the court. We're certain that each one of the guys will give a hundred percent so that our country is able to get that first victory in front of our fans,” added López, whose squad would also secure their qualification if they win their two games — regardless of other results.
Dominicana, who are currently fourth in Group F and have a greater point difference than their Group E counterparts (Puerto Rico) hold in their hands the last spot for the World Cup, because of their distance to the Puerto Ricans (61-23). However, this advantage isn't letting them put their guard down.
“We're not even considering the difference in points. We're focused on Brazil and Venezuela. We're giving our players all the tools to be successful in these games. I think that we can't stay relaxed for any reason and we have to be focused the whole time on our rivals for the week,” argued López, whose team has a 3-1 record as locals in the Qualifiers.
The Dominican Republic have 16 players in their shortlist, with Rigoberto Mendoza, Víctor Liz and Gelvis Solano acing perfect marks in attendance for the Qualifiers. Nonetheless, the squad presents a new asset: Ronald Roberts, Jr., who hasn't played for the national team since the 2014 Centrobasket.
“(Roberts) is a player that can do several things in the court and can greatly contribute to this team. He has the desire, the attitude, and he has taken the firm decision to represent our country and to do so in our court, in front of our fans. This will be something very important for all of us. I think that he’ll enjoy very much to play with this national team and that he’ll give us his best,” López stated.