Qualified Team Focus - Mexico: 12 Guerreros hungry to return to knockout stage
MIES (Switzerland) - The draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, presented by Wanda, will be held in Manila, Philippines, on April 29. It is now time to meet the 32 teams that try to become World Champions in a few months.
Here is the number 31 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, FIBA AmeriCup 2013 champions Mexico.
How did they qualify
Mexico started its Americas Qualifiers campaign after having lost to Brazil in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament Split. The long-time 12 Guerreros captain Omar Quintero was back at the helm as head coach and Mexican fans were treated to a thrilling ride over six FIBA Windows. In the end, Mexico booked their ticket on the final game day and are playing on the global stage for the second time in three editions.
Mexico hosted the first window bubble in November 2021, and it turned out to a brilliant start. Mexico opened Group D of the Americas Qualifiers with a 90-86 win over Puerto Rico after 17 lead changes. Gabriel Giron scored 21 points, Fabian Jaimes collected 19 points and 12 rebounds and Paul Stoll dished out 14 assists.
More than 4,000 fans came out for Mexico's second game as they fought back from 13 points down to beat USA, 97-88. Orlando Mendez poured in 27 points, and Paul Stoll contributed 18 points and 11 assists.
The run continued in the February 2022 window with an 82-72 win in Cuba as Giron scored 23 points and Daniel Amigo had 15 points and 11 rebounds. But Mexico's winning streak was snapped with an 89-67 loss in the United States.
The June/July 2022 window opened with a 75-66 home win over Cuba - Paul Stoll and Pako Cruz combining for 33 points. Mexico were unable to knock off Puerto Rico again in the First Round as they lost a thriller 97-87 in overtime on the road. Amigo and Cruz totaled 39 points in helping Mexico rally from 18 points down in a game with 15 lead changes.
The Second Round stage started with another thriller - albeit a loss - as 10,200 spectators in Chihuahua saw Mexico waste a 20-point lead in falling 93-89 to Colombia. Mexico bounced back in the second game in Group F by upsetting Brazil 82-72 on the road.
Between the first and second windows of the Second Round, Mexico played at the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 in September and beat USA in the opener. They lost to Venezuela in the final group game and then were upended by Canada 82-77 in the Quarter-Finals. In the November 2022 window, Giron and Cruz combined for 38 points in an 80-60 home win over Uruguay, but Mexico had no chance in the second matchup with Brazil, losing 102-56 on the road.
The competition for the five World Cup spots from the Americas Qualifiers was fierce and was only decided in the final window in February 2023. Six players scored in double figures in Mexico's comfortable 113-54 blowout of Colombia on the road to start the window. Mexico then fought back from 11 points down in Uruguay with a 28-12 second quarter to run away with an 82-69 victory to book their World Cup ticket.
Best result at the World Cup
Mexico are making their sixth appearance at the World Cup and the second in three editions. The Americas side debuted on the world stage in 1959 and played in three straight World Cups, finishing 13th and 9th before taking eighth place in 1967. The performance in Uruguay ended up being the country's best result. Mexico took ninth place in 1974 and then waited 40 years to return to the World Cup, finishing 14th in Spain nine summers ago.
Last World Cup appearances
Basketball was back on the sports landscape in Mexico in 2014 when the 12 Guerreros ended a 40-year drought. They started their Group D campaign in Spain with an 87-74 loss to Lithuania and dropped the second game 89-68 to Slovenia. Mexico then grabbed a crucial first victory over Angola with Gustavo Ayon putting up 17 points and 12 rebounds in 79-55 win. Mexico gave Australia a fight, falling 70-62, before bouncing back to knock off Korea 87-71 to advance to the Round of 16 thanks to holding the tiebreaker over Angola. Mexico had no chance in the Knockout Phase though as they were eliminated 86-63 against USA.
Players to watch
Head coach Quintero had a strong core in the qualification with five players - Gabriel Giron, Israel Gutierrez, Fabian Jaimes, Orlando Mendez and Paul Stoll - who played in all 12 of the games and Gael Bonilla appearing in 11 of them.
Stoll and Mendez are two of five players who were on the 2014 World Cup roster and will likely be back later this summer along with Jorge Gutierrez, Pako Cruz and Hector Hernandez. Altogether Quintero will have a talented squad as he also will have the services of NBA guard Juan Toscano-Anderson not to mention Lucas Martinez, Alex Perez, Daniel Amigo and Joshua Ibarra.
Israel Gutierrez and Pako Cruz
There is also a strong core of youngsters looking to build the next generation topped by Bonilla but also including Jesus Ochoa, Diego Willis, Esteban Roach, Moises Andriassi and Victor Valdes.
Qualified Team Focus series
Please check the teams we have already broken down. In the past weeks, before the last qualifications that happened in February 2023, we have ordered them by their position in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike:
Spain, Australia, France, Slovenia, Lithuania, Greece, Italy, Germany, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, USA, Serbia, Brazil, Venezuela, Montenegro, Puerto Rico, Iran, Dominican Republic, China and Latvia.