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23 Arnaldo Garcia (PUR)
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Puerto Rico prepares its youth talent for 2020

SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) – There's no time to lose, and the Puerto Rico Basketball Federation (FBPUR) has already started to prepare for their international youth events in 2020 with scouting sessions for athletes ages 14 to 17, and more than 200 showed up for the opportunity. Ahead lie two main events, the U15 Centrobasket, and the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, and both are scheduled to be held next summer.

The first two phases of identifying young talents were held during November. One, in the legendary Arquelio Torres Ramírez Coliseum in San Germán, where 90 players attended; and the other, at the well-known Club Bucaplaa in San Juan, where there was an outstanding attendance of 120 participants. During the day, the young athletes went through jumping and speed tests, basic defensive and offensive drills, and their physical profiles were registered in the Federation's talent pool. The FBPUR expects to organize a third phase in the Southern region of the island next week.

“We've seen tall players, players of quite a respectable height for their age, which is the U15. There are many 6’6” and 6’5” players that are very talented and who are experiencing FIBA for the first time,” said to FIBA.basketball Xavier Miranda, co-administrator of youth national teams for the FBPUR. “As for the U18, the team already qualified to the FIBA Americas (Championship) and this would be the second stage. What we're looking for are specific position players to complete the group that we already have.”

Once the third recruiting phase next week concludes in the Southern area of the island, 40 players will be chosen for the national team's shortlist. At the same time, the female team that will attend the U17 World Cup is already training under the guidance of their coach, Sulmary Sánchez.

“As you can see, we get ready six or seven months before the tournaments,” Miranda explained. “We're constantly receiving help from different groups, such as PUR Basket, who identify and recruit talents in the United States. With that, and along with native talent, we've been able to build a good group that has been very successful.” The Boricuas achieved the bronze medal in the U17 World Championship and were sixth in the U19 in Greece.

Miranda pointed out that, aside from recruiting players in and out of the country to be competitive in international tournaments, FBPUR has a moral and social commitment to the youth to help them achieve personal well-being.

“We keep a constant communication with them, we check their grades, we ask them what they want to do, which steps they're going to take, because this is not just the athletic part, there are also social and academic aspects, and we're keeping an eye on each one of these players,” Miranda stated.

Through their Technical Commission, the Puerto Rico Federation also announced that they’ll be offering three continuing education workshops for referees in the San Juan, Quebradillas, and Ponce regions during December.