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Venezuela's Guillent: ''The only thing missing was getting to the World Cup''
CARACAS (FIBA Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers 2019) — Two South American titles, one FIBA AmeriCup title, one appearance at the Olympic Games — that’s the track record of the Venezuelan national team since 2014.
Coach Néstor “Che” García put together the current group of players and, under his lead, success started to arrive. Now, under Fernando Duró’s reign, they reached the goal they were searching for: Qualifying to the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Venezuela sealed their ticket to China 2019 last weekend in the fifth window of the Americas Qualifiers after defeating Canada, 84-76, in Caracas, ad then concluded the memorable event with a win as visitors at the Virgin Islands, 77-76.
“This group has been together for several years as a team and the only thing missing was getting to the World Cup. It was a dream. Everything we have gone through together has been very beautiful. I think we're doing great things that will be remembered,” said point guard Heissler Guillent, who leads the team in assists, with 5.5 per game.
“This is something that makes us very happy. I'm thankful for all my teammates, for the technical team. We're a great family. We've always played for the jersey and for the country. We all contribute something,” added captain José Vargas.
The 9-1 record in the Qualifiers surpasses the expectations for the Venezuelan quintet, and coach Duró can't hide his satisfaction.
“The group understood the idea. Everything starts at the defense and in being solidary. I'm very happy, these guys have an enormous motivation and showed a lot of professionalism. Having a 6-0 mark at home was tremendous. I'm very happy for the fans, for the technical team, and for the guys,” said the coach.
The Venezuelan squad, after 10 games, have showcased the third best defense in the Americas, with an average of 67.1 points allowed to their rivals, behind Brazil (64.4) and the United States (65.1). They're leaders in the rebound department, with a 46.1 average, and are second in assists, with 20.6. These factors allowed them to reach a certain stability in their game until they finally reached the prized ticket to China. But apart from the numbers, and according to Guillent, what truly drove the team is something that can't be quantified.
“The key to success in this qualifier has been the commitment of each of the players that have been in these windows. We're committed to our country, to our technical team. We faced adversities, but we were always focused on the job that had to be done in the court and in keeping our sights set on the objective — achieving the qualification. That was a demonstration of maturity by all of us,” the point guard assured.
China 2019 will be the Venezuelans' fourth World Cup. Before, they had appeared in Argentina 1990, Indianapolis 2002 and Japan 2006.