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Puerto Ricans made history: defeated Brazil and earned first-ever World Cup ticket
BUENOS AIRES (FIBA Women’s AmeriCup) - The fellowship the players demonstrated at the center-court once the game was over reflected all the efforts the Puerto Rican team went through to achieve an unprecedented feat. Among tears of joy and embraces, the players thanked God for their current position. Spain 2018 will go down in history as the first World Cup for Puerto Rican women's basketball.
They earned their spot after defeating no more and no less than Brazil for the third place at the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup, but they had already given a clear demonstration that they could achieve something big once they defeated Cuba and Mexico, and later played a very good game against Canada.
“It's a year away but the energy right now is unbelievable. I don't think we know exactly what we just did, but we know that it was big,” said an emotional Allison Gibson, who scored key three-pointers in tight moments of the game, and totaled 19 points. “I feel like I needed to pull it together in the second half. I didn't have a great first half and I knew my team needed me, and I knew we wanted to make history, so it was very important to do that,” she added.
Michelle González also contributed much to the game with a total of 16 points and four assists. “The confidence and chemistry we share brought us to where we are today. We're 12 players with one heart, one objective. This is incredible, this is a historic moment for my country. We’ll realize that we're in the World Cup when we get back to the Island and start celebrating with our people,” she added.
It's a mystery how Coach Gerardo Batista Santiago kept his emotions at bay during the interview. “I'm trying to process this all, but I think that once I'm in the locker room all of my sentiments will arise,” he clarified. And so it was. When he met his players, the celebration began.
“I'm the type of person who has a lot of faith, but I don’t believe things until I see them. What could be seen was that we were doing many positive things at the tournament. We were given this opportunity and we have to be happy with the result,” the Coach pointed out. “We really wanted to win this game. To win these types of matches you must achieve important shots at key moments, and that's what we did,” he shared.
He also stressed on the importance that this qualification holds for the Puerto Rico National Program. “I think this sends out a great message. We really believe in the National Program. We were missing four players from our regular roster. I'm not saying that if they were here we would've qualified, because in sports there are things that one can't control. This is a young group that has been reinvented a little. We can’t ask for anything else.”