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''We're all Paraguay'': the motto that leads the growth of basketball

ASUNCIÓN (Paraguay) — The Paraguayan Basketball Confederation (CPB, for its Spanish acronym) encourages young talents around the country to build teams for new experiences in championships, to continue the entity’s work in favor of the growth of basketball in Paraguay. The goal is to host a South American Championship, to try to have more experiences and to get to the highest place in basketball.

“We're all Paraguay” is the CPB’s motto for this year, and they are working with junior national teams every day to develop basketball in their country.

The U14 boy’s South American Championship was the first international commitment at a national team level in the Confederation’s calendar. In Goiania, Brazil, during the month of July, the Paraguayan team surprised everyone by getting to the semifinals, where they were defeated by Argentina — current continental champions.

The female team of the same category couldn’t secure a good place, arriving sixth out of seven in the tournament that also took place in July, but in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

“Because of the height differences, we didn't have much hope with the men’s team, and we didn't believe that they could play games, like the one in their debut against Chile, or get to the semifinals. But like any Paraguayan player, they gathered their strength and moved forward. We're aware that we must double our efforts for next year or stay in the place where they were. (However), now they're more prepared,” said to FIBA.basketball Santiago Ochipinti, CPB President elected this year.

“We expected more from the girls, they were better prepared. In that category, we're always better positioned, but this time around we didn't do as well. We're going to work a lot because we believe we have good material there,” he added.

The CPB, affiliated since 1947 to FIBA, works to foster the growth of Mini Basketball and the formative categories, which are the foundation and future of the national teams in each country. More than 4,500 children play in the basketball championship in Uruguay, and this year there’s a new U13 Championship, which was one of the pillars to build this U14 team.

“Youth national team members will keep training. We’ll have occasional concentrations to study their biometrics, featuring doctors, nutritionists, physical trainers and physical therapists to see how we can improve in the physical and psychological aspects,” commented the Paraguayan directive. He also referred to the current evaluations by the Paraguayan Olympic Committee with the Confederation to assess possible youth national team members and their physical aspects and athletic aptitudes, as well as giving them health check-ups.

“We provide them with check-ups by dentists up to physical therapists. They do all necessary checks and with the results, we work with players to begin their process in the national teams,” stated Ochipinti.

Now all sights are on the U21 national team traveling to Tunja, Colombia, from August 12 to 17, to face a new South American challenge. Some friendlies took place in Argentina have already taken place in preparation for this event.

Ochipinti assured that “the guys are training, it's quite a homogeneous team in height. With one- or two-years’ difference, there are 17, 18 and 19-year old players. Last year we participated with a younger team, so this year we expect to see improvement. The draw hasn’t favored us. We're facing locals Colombia, and Brazil and Uruguay.”

In 2020 we expect to organize one or two South American Championships. “We want to bring the Women’s South American Championship, and that’s almost a given. We're considering our available budget. We would like to bring the female U15 and the male U19, but we want to try to host two South American Championships in our country.”

Ochipinti has been in the Confederation’s Executive Committee for almost 10 years and has managed all national teams. “This is the same administration, but perhaps with different actors. We try to keep raising Paraguayan basketball up and that’s done by working with the youth divisions, which are the future of the Guaraní nation’s teams.”

“Female sports are growing. Physicality plays an important role. I led the female national teams for more than 20 years. I started in U14 with the girls that are playing in the Pan American Games in Lima (who achieved a seventh spot). We're still lacking big girls under the basket to improve our game,” Ochipinti affirmed.

“We created a league at the national level so that the whole region plays. We’ll start another competition to draw our basketball map. Now there are more than 700 places in Paraguay that will have a basketball court.”

“We're all Paraguay” is the motto of a Confederation that works to motivate children and youth, through different actions, to play basketball from a young age, provide them the facilities to do so, and build a national team that defends the South American nation's colors in continental and international competitions.