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Youth Development Program Camp's strong impact on the Americas' youth

BUENOS AIRES (Argentina) – Development camp is one of the most important formative tools for young players who aim to reach professional stages and achieve one of the greatest goals in basketball – playing in a national team.

The FIBA Americas Youth Development Program Elite Camp has been for many of the continent's young prospects the beginning of a significant shift in their careers as athletes, and as persons as well. Such is the case of Tomás Allende, one of Argentine basketball's great promises who, at the age of 16 and measuring 6 feet and 3 inches, has achieved more than he could have ever imagined when, at the age of four his father Daniel, motivated him to have his first experience with the sport.

Tomás Allende was born in Tucuman and plays as a point and shooting guard. He was chosen by the Argentine Basketball Confederation (CABB, for its Spanish acronym) and FIBA to participate in one of the series of camps held in 2019 for the Americas – first in Brazil, then in Argentina, later in Mexico, and concluding in Puerto Rico.

Allende was selected for the Buenos Aires Camp on April 11, where he had the chance of working on all aspects of his game, a unique opportunity to showcase his skills to the world. The Camp featured national team trainer Maximiliano Seigorman, who was joined by Argentine team trainers and other guests including Chilean coach César Barría, and Uruguayan coach Marcelo Capablo. Another person who visited was Argentine national senior men's team coach Sergio Hernández.

Of the 24 top-notch prospects born between 2002 and 2005 from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, Allende was also selected as one of the five players for the FIBA Americas Elite Squad, a team of 20 players of the continent that will play in several exhibition games in October or November in a venue that is yet to be determined.

“I learned a lot at the YDP. It was an experience that helped me to grow as a player and as a person. It was a great opportunity to explore what I know how to do best, which is to play basketball. They encouraged us to stay motivated to give the best of ourselves both in and out of the court. As a person and as a player they made us realize that we need to have discipline, respect and that our team is a brotherhood,” stated Allende to FIBA.basketball.

The Camp takes place according to one of the FIBA Americas pillars, which is that the Youth Development Program’s objective is to seek and develop young elite players of the Americas so that they can elevate the quality of their national teams for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. It also establishes a process to track and monitor young talents in their evolution and progression in the Americas and work hand in hand with key stakeholders in the national federations to identify talents.

“Youth development camps like FIBA’s are great support for these young players and for their individual development work toward collective efforts. Something that FIBA and the CABB wish to implement is to develop young talents with the objective of having them be a part someday of senior national teams. After participating in the camps, the players go back to their clubs with another mindset. Most of them end up playing professionally and a lot has to do with the amount of development they acquire in these types of camps,” assured Mariano Marcos, member of the technical staff of Argentine national youth teams, and who was also part of the technical staff of the YDP that observed Allende.

“He’s a kid with an awesome attitude for training. He's always willing to listen and learn, something that's difficult to find today among teenagers. Sometimes they think that they know it all and Tomás is different in that way. He's totally physical and prodigious in his game. He's an important scorer and a great defender. He's very important in his club and he’ll also be important for the national team,” assured who also is one of the regional coordinators of the CABB's National Formative Program.

Allende's selection was based on his excellent basketball skills and leadership, FIBA explained in their press release). “Being in the Camp was a way to keep progressing individually and collectively. I think they chose me because of my effort and my desire to play. It was a very beautiful experience that I knew how to take the most advantage of,” Allende shared.

After his YDP participation, he was appointed by the CABB as one of the eight players that participated in the Americas Basketball Without Borders in Medellin, Colombia, on June 24. This is a worldwide program of NBA and FIBA development for basketball and for the community. In it, kids live together and learn from great international basketball figures. This edition featured figures like Bruno Caboclo (former NBA Toronto Raptors and part of the technical staff of the Memphis Grizzlies), Jamal Murray (of the Denver Nuggets), Carlos Arroyo (former NBA player and former member of the Puerto Rico national team) and Ruth Riley (former WNBA player).

Several months later after these experiences in both camps concluded, he was called again (after the three previous occasions on the U15) by national team trainer Daniel Farabello for the first concentration of the U17 national team shortlist that's training for the South American Championship taking place from November 10 to 17 in Chile, and where four spots for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship 2020 will be granted.

“He's a player with great projection, with outstanding talent and with physical potential. Because of his age, he has a lot to improve. When he improves how he reads the game and his outside shots, he’ll be a complete player. We have great expectations about his future,” said Farabello to FIBA.basketball.

“In 2019 my dream is to be a part of the U17 Argentine team and play in the South American Championship. You must train for that, that's what makes you reach your goals. I'm happy for my athletic achievements, which are also accompanied by my studies (one of my parents’ demands). I have to value and use everything I'm experiencing to my advantage,” assured Tomy, as he’s known by friends and family.

In July 2018, after his formative club, Central Córdoba, were champions, he had an outstanding opportunity – playing with Quimsa de Santiago del Estero, a team in the Argentine National League (LNB), the most important category in the South American country. His life turned around 180° – he started to train and study and play in the Development League, a tournament exclusive to Argentina’s young prospects. Seven months after his arrival, and at the age of 15 with three months and 17 days, he debuted at the LNB under the wing of Silvio Santander, who is now an assistant coach for the Argentine national senior men's team. His growth since then has been non-stop.

“Since a very young age, he had a lot of capabilities. I defined him as an all-wheel-drive because he played in all positions. He ended up being a 1-2 and, because of his province's lack of height, he learned to play in all positions. He's noticeably improving thanks to the contribution of the teams, camps like the FIBA Americas Youth Development Program and Basketball Without Borders, that opened new doors for him, as well as his work in his club, Quimsa,” said Daniel Allende, Tomás' father, who was also his trainer, to FIBA.basketball.

“Thanks to his progress he's being valued. Opportunities came up to be a part of the NBA Academy in Mexico, and recruiters from Spain have also reached out to us. All the opportunities that are coming up are to his merit. The important thing is that he's paving his own path and building his own future,” he concluded.

And just like Tomás Allende, there are thousands of kids in the Argentine national that practice basketball and that seek to be a part of their youth teams and to wear the national team jersey in a FIBA Basketball World Cup Final, just like the Argentine team did in China 2019 and transcend with basketball. A dream they share with Tomy.