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Puerto Rico can sting Serbia in the clutch, says Barea
BELGRADE (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) – Puerto Rico superstar Juan Jose Barea has had his fair share of do-or-die games in his long NBA career as well as with the national team and he already has an ideal script in his mind for Saturday's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) final in Belgrade.
"As Puerto Rico we have not beaten a European team at their home for what seems like for ever, so hopefully this will be the one." - Barea
The 32-year-old point guard told FIBA.com that it is up to his team to turn the game which decides which team gets the ticket to Rio 2016 into an affair that bares no resemblance to Monday's first clash, when the OQT hosts led Puerto Rico by as many as 20 points.
FIBA.com: What does Puerto Rico need to do differently in the final, what changes you can do to make it different to Monday's game?
Barea: We got to keep the game close, we cannot afford to fall behind. I think we are definitely going to defend them better this time around, it has to be a great deal better. We have to hold them, we have to win the game on the defensive end. Offensively, in the semi-final we did not shoot the ball that great but hopefully in the final everyone will be making shots, that would help a lot!
FIBA.com: If you stay close, you're counting on your experience as a team to make the difference in the clutch?
Barea: Exactly, if we keep it a close game we got Carlos [Arroyo] who is veteran point guard, I have a lot of experience too. So we could make some big plays in the end, in the semi-final we did it three of four plays in a row down the stretch that won the game.
FIBA.com: Having lost the first game, does it somehow give you more room in the final to surprise Serbia?
Barea: No question about it, if we had won the first game it would be impossible to beat them twice in five days at their home. But we only need to beat them once. As Puerto Rico we have not beaten a European team at their home for what seems like for ever, so hopefully this will be the one.
FIBA.com: Will you be in Rio in August?
Barea: These Olympics would be my first and it would all be about that if we make it happen. I've been dreaming about it and, hopefully, it will come true.