Capitanes: a project that brought immediate results
It was less than two years ago that entrepreneur Moisés Cosío, and his associates Patricio Garza and Rodrigo Trujillo, had to explain why Mexico City needed a basketball team. Their arguments were not complex. Instead, they pointed out to something simple and concrete. Cosío explained: “We like basketball and, like many other people in the city, we didn't have the chance to watch a team of our own play. Our references were NBA teams, which is why we believed it could be a good opportunity and we decided to establish Capitanes in 2016. We're in a large city, with many possibilities. There's nothing negative to it.”
Mexico City was represented intermittently by several squads in the National Professional League. Ola Roja participated between the years 2000 and 2006, and for a brief amount of time, Estrellas played in the 2008-09 season. Then, Titanes took their place just for the 2010-11 campaign, and more recently, Gansos Salvajes, between 2012 and 2014.
Cosío remarks that “we didn't know how our city's fans would react or how they would receive us, because we were new. Luckily, we saw that the players were up to the task to creating a team and a project from scratch, and the people gladly accepted us.”
Capitanes’ plan included signing well-known Mexican players with a great career, such as Héctor Hernández, Pery Meza and Gabriel Girón; and placing a foreign coach who already knew the environment due to his experience with the Aztec national team — Ramón Díaz, from Spain.
“We needed a year to prepare and we've just started to participate in the LNBP during the 2017-18 season. We faced the challenge of filling Juan de la Barrera stadium with more than 5,000 persons. Our project is to unite Mexico City in their support of Capitanes. We've been very much welcome because there’s a lot of people that want to see Mexican basketball. There are fans of our national basketball, not just NBA (basketball). Now we're aiming at people from outside of the basketball environment and we want to be an entertainment option for them,” Cosío explains.
The stadium was fully packed during the most recent playoffs, something that is happening again this 2019. For Cosío, this is “a sign that our team has a good relationship with the people, which is why we're convinced that it is also a good business.” The montage of each show that surrounds the Capitanes’ game follows an NBA model; which is why there are cheerleaders, contests, and food and beverage stands. “The operating profit and the comprehensive assembly of the show are aspects that are not yet developed in the LNBP. We must find the way to offer something more to the people that go to our games,” he adds.
It goes without saying that any sports endeavor needs acceptable results to keep going. The previous Mexico City teams could not overcome that hurdle. Capitanes, on the contrary, achieved this immediately. On their debut season they arrived at the Liga Nacional Finals, losing against Soles de Mexicali, 4-1. However, this opportunity allowed them to go on to the international stage, and they are currently participating at the DIRECTV Liga de las Américas, which will feature them in the Final Four at Buenos Aires. But the team from the Mexican capital city confirmed their supremacy, supported on a trustworthy hierarchy of core native and foreign players (all of whom are Latin American). They were crowned champions of the Southern Zone after a rematch and defeating Soles 4-2, which is why they will be present once again in the National League final.
Capitanes are facing a decisive stage in Liga de las Américas, after overcoming the first two stages with the same registry of two wins and one defeat.
For Cosío, “it's a dream come true to be among the best in Latin America. Since Liga de las Américas began we dreamed with the Final Four and we got it. We showed that at a sports and organizational level we can compete against great teams. It's time for us to enjoy this stage where we expect to participate regularly to become a part of the best (teams) and give glory to Mexican basketball.”
Perhaps the Mexicans did not have a secure spot in the final stage, bu the team got in among the best thanks to their good performance and winning character. In the first pairing, their rivals will be Guaros de Lara, the solid Venezuelan team who are undefeated and are one of the favorites.
Coach Ramón Díaz has no doubt about Capitanes’ participation in the continental stage means for Mexico City: “I define this with two words. One of them would be “success”, because that's what, with this team's two years, has allowed us to battle in the best four in Latin America. It's a sports achievement that involved all areas of our organization. The other word I would use is “motivation”. With the group we have, why not believe that we can defeat Guaros and get to the Final. I'm convinced that my players will give their all to be able to be in the last game. That would be incredible.”
Among the veteran players in Capitanes is Pery Meza, who already knows what it means to get to the Liga de las Américas Final Four and even engraved his name among the champions of the continental tournament.
“I'm proud to represent this club, since despite its short life has showed that it's one of the more serious organizations that I've been a part of. Mexico City deserves a team that represents them with dignity. This will be my sixth Final Four and I'm very much looking forward to winning the most important tournament in the Americas and bringing Mexico another triumph. We respect Guaros because they’re going to be a very difficult win, but we're ready for the challenge,” acknowledges the player, who was a part of the champion squad of Pioneros de Cancún in 2012.
Tranquility reigns over Capitanes, although they recognize that they are facing the most transcendent moments in their short history. Even if a continental title could mean a powerful bolster for the project, they are aiming toward long-term goals. Cosío himself says so: “We know that we won't recover our financial investment instantly, but these good performances nationally and internationally will help us to consolidate us. We're aware that we have something important in our hands. Nonetheless, we're not in a hurry. We want our growth to be strong, we want to improve every year, and not turn into something that's short-lived.”