Veteran Balkman returns to strengthen Puerto Rico for World Cup
GUANGZHOU (China) - Renaldo Balkman's inclusion into Puerto Rico's FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 squad is hoped to spark the team in China.
The former New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets player was only recently included by the Puerto Rican Basketball Federation and he made the final 12-man roster to China.
|Renaldo Balkman||Christopher Brady||Gary Browne||Gian Clavell|
|Ramon Clemente||Devon Collier||Jorge Bryan Diaz||Alexander Franklin|
|David Huertas||Javier Mojica||Isaiah Pineiro||Angel Rodriguez|
With powerhouse Spain expected to dominate Group C, Puerto Rico are set to fight for second spot with Iran and Tunisia but will arrive in Guangzhou on the back of an unconvincing preparation period.
21-year-old guard Ivan Gandia and shooting guard Emmanuel Andujar missed the final cut. "It was not an easy day for me and it was an extremely difficult decision because it was strictly looking for the best we have in the team," coach Eddie Casiano said.
Puerto Rico's squad boasts a mix of youth and experience with their fortunes seemingly resting on 35-year-old Balkman and star guard Gian Clavell. Dallas Mavericks player JJ Barea will be missing but much excitement surrounds 24-year-old Isaiah Pineiro who was recently signed by the Sacramento Kings.
After their golden generation culminated with a stunning upset over Team USA at the Athens Olympics, Puerto Rico has struggled in recent times to recapture the magic of old.
To advance to the Second Round of the tournament, Puerto Rico will need to finish in the top-two places of their group, and if they do, they will move on to Group J to face the best two-placed teams from Group D, which consists of Angola, the Philippines, Italy and Serbia.
Puerto Rico's first game is against Iran on August 31.