17 January
31 March, 2019
8 Gregory Vargas (GRO), 7 Nicolás Aguirre (SLA)
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San Lorenzo returns to the Final4 with the bitter taste of defeat still in mind

San Lorenzo’s run during the previous stage of the Final Four of the DIRECTV Liga de las Américas seemed to develop both solid and effectively. Nonetheless, as soon as they secured their qualification among the top four teams, an important defeat arrived when facing Venezuelan champions Guaros de Lara.

It's not that the Barquisimeto team couldn’t defeat the current champions of the Americas. What was astounding was the complete and thorough prowess of the Venezuelans, who will also be in the continental tournament's definition this weekend in Buenos Aires.

The doubt on everybody’s minds was how the Argentine team would react after an unexpected loss, and if it could affect the team in the decisive stage — particularly after closing the qualifying stage with a five-win and one-defeat record.

The team’s point guard, Nicolás Aguirre, sets aside any worries and, although he acknowledges that “in this last game we didn't play well, our performance wasn't the same as in previous games. However, that defeat is over, it's in the past. The important thing we achieved the day before, by qualifying to the Final Four. Not everyone plays there for the second year in a row. And that we must enjoy. Now our only worry is Paulistano, in the first pairing.”

Someone who thinks very similarly is Uruguayan center Mathías Calfani, who assures that “losing against Guaros didn't affect our emotional state, because it didn’t change our situation, but it did help us learn. We didn't control that game and that can’t happen again. We understood that if we don't do things well, we're going to lose, because we're facing top-ranked rivals.”

Calfani can only think on what he’ll face this weekend in San Lorenzo during the Final Four, since they’ll have “a unique opportunity of defending the title at home, where we did it a year ago. This is the most important club tournament in the Americas and we have the chance to win it once again and make history. That's our great motivation.”

Small forward Diego Lo Gruppo analyzed that “the defeat against Guaros was strange, because we had the chance to make the shots we usually achieve, and we failed a lot in that game. With a little bit of a better aim, the story could've been different. It's not something to panic about.”

Nonetheless, the player that was incorporated specifically for this tournament added that “losing helped us to reaffirm the Liga de las Américas’ level and we can't make mistakes again. We're happy to be able to defend the title at home. The team is motivated, they know what we're playing for. We're anxious, but confident that we’ll get to the final. These are the best four teams that played throughout the two previous stages.”

Point guard José Vildoza went further and acknowledged that “Guaros never let us play comfortably, they played better than we did. Besides that the defeat didn’t affect us because it didn't change our situation, it did hurt a bit, above all because we lost our unbeaten status in a local game and in front of our people. But we're very much looking forward to this because we're still in the run to fight in such an important tournament like Liga de las Américas and, besides, as locals. It would be a great joy to win it once again.”

Alejandro Pérez