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YDP Elite Camp in San Juan concludes with selection of players to Elite Squad

SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) - With the selection of Elite Five, the fourth edition of the FIBA Americas Youth Development Program Elite Camp culminated on Sunday at the facilities of the YMCA in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Johned Walker, Omar Figueroa, Eddiean Tirado, Yaniel Rivera, all from Puerto Rico and Imanuel Zorgvol from Suriname, were selected for the Elite Five and joined the FIBA Americas Elite Squad, which already has 15 members from the previous camps in Campinas, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City.

The players were selected after four days full of activities and drills to practice the basics of the game, evaluations, talks, and scrimmages. The camp was attended by 22 prospects between 14-17 years of age from the Caribbean countries Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and the Bahamas.

Veteran Puerto Rican coach Gustavo Cañas highlighted the purpose of the camp, “This is a program for young people who are at the top of the recruitment process in their own federations. They are the ones that in 5-6 years will be part of their national teams. In this Camp we were able to give them sessions on motor skills, universal dribble stations, passes, shooting and defensive sets and then at night, games applying the different drills. ”

The veteran coach said he was surprised by the level of talent he was in charge of this weekend, 24 young people with the greatest projection in the Caribbean. "I love basketball, I have been involved in it for more than 34 years at all levels and seeing what happened [in this camp] makes me proud," said Cañas who was one of the national directors of the camp.

Seven other coaches from countries such as the Bahamas, the United States, and the Dominican Republic were part of the technical staff. Maíta Mercedes, Dominican former player and coach with a long resume of experience with the youth national teams, said that the camp works towards increasing the level of basketball in this Sub-Zone of the continent.

“Impressed, a great event for basketball in America, I would like to congratulate FIBA for this initiative and hope that they continue to be held in order to raise our continental level”, said the coach.

Mercedes also urged the participating players to continue working on their game and to combine the sporting activity with a good performance in the classroom.

“Excellent, many ideal profiles, many interesting profiles, [now we have to] concentrate on each of them being able to follow up on work and preparation, to have clear goals, clear objectives, that combine all this type of work with education that is extremely important,” emphasized Mercedes.

The Youth Elite Camp is part of one of the key pillars of FIBA Americas, the Youth Development Program that has the following objectives:
• Seek and develop young elite players in the Americas so that they raise the quality of their national teams at the FIBA 2023 Basketball World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics
• Establish a process to track and monitor young talents in its Evolution and Progression in the Region of the Americas
• Work hand in hand with the main interested entities and national federations to identify talent.

The Program, which will be implemented through individual camps, is structured in three pillars: increase basketball access to young athletes, increase opportunities for young women to develop their game and create a platform for elite youth players in the Americas. The implementation of the program began with Youth Elite Camps for boys in December 2018 and throughout the year 2019, with 2020 as the initial date of the Youth Elite Camps for girls.

For the players, it was a great opportunity to receive first-class instruction and feedback, as well as share the experience with young people from other cultures.

“It was a very nice experience for me, it helped me a lot as a player to develop, I made friends from other islands, we had good chemistry and were really very happy,” said the 16-year-old selected to the FIBA Americas Elite Squad, Johned Walker, from Puerto Rico.

"I liked everything, the coaches, my performance and I think my level of play is going to go up," added Walker.

Omar Figueroa, also from Puerto Rico and who had just stood out in the Centrobasket U17 Championship in the previous weeks, highlighted the level of competition during the weekend. “It is a very high level because many play internationally with their countries and have a lot of knowledge and are very good. I felt great. I thank the coaches who could give me this opportunity to be able to demonstrate my talent in this camp,” said Figueroa.

For Immanuel Zorgvol, a 17-year-old Suriname prospect, the experience is summed up in one sentence; "I need to work hard." "It was a great experience. I did very well, the coaches are good. My teammates are very good, they [really] can play basketball,” said Zorgvol with a smile on his face.

The President of the Puerto Rico Basketball Federation, Yum Ramos was present during the activity and cataloged the project as a total success that he hopes will be repeated.

“The work that was done seemed exceptional. We want to thank FIBA and congratulate them on this initiative. I think it is necessary, as I said in my farewell message for one to develop the Zones [Americas] and the sub-zones [CBC] it is necessary to work with the base," he said.

The 5 players chosen in Puerto Rico join Marcio Henrique Da Costa, Matheus Leoni Brito, Guilherme Carvalho, Daniel Ifedi Ferreira and Bruno Henrique Pedro, selected in Campinas, Brazil, and Argentines Tomás Allende, Federico Copes, Esteban Cáffaro, Lucas Sigismonti and the Uruguayan Mateo Bianchi of the Camp in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition to the young Mexicans Esteban Roacho, Juan Pablo Camargo, Yahir Gael Bonilla, Gibran Jair Belmonte, and the Panamanian Aldimir Castillo, added to the squad at the Mexico City stop.

These 20 will participate in exhibition matches in important events of the international basketball calendar. The next FIBA Americas Youth Elite Camp will be announced shortly.