Qualified Team Focus - Venezuela: Veterans looking for one more go around
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 17 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, FIBA AmeriCup 2015 champions Venezuela.
🇻🇪 VENEZUELA ARE IN! 🇻🇪— FIBA Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) February 27, 2023
Apariciones consecutivas para Venezuela en la Copa del Mundo 🏆#FIBAWC x #WinForVenezuela pic.twitter.com/9N3tUy4WCG
How did they qualify
Head coach Fernando Duro started the Americas Qualifiers after the team failed to reach the Tokyo Olympics, falling to Slovenia in the Semi-Finals of the Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas.
Venezuela locked up their spot for the World Cup on the final game day thanks to Dominican Republic upsetting Argentina to knock the 2019 runners-up out of the competition. Duro had a strong core of players to rely upon with five players appearing in all 12 games and a sixth playing in 11 games.
The qualification campaign started in a strong fashion with two comfortable victories over Panama in Group A - both coming in a bubble tournament in Argentina in November 2021.
The second window in February 2022 also took place in Buenos Aires but the visitors from Venezuela pulled out a big 71-58 upset of Argentina in front of a crowd of 4,000. Nestor Colmenares collected 17 points and 8 rebounds in the big win. Venezuela made sure they didn't let the second game get away and raced past Paraguay thanks to 24 points from Jhorman Zamora.
Venezuela nearly grabbed a second victory over Argentina in the June/July 2022 window but could not hold a 14-point lead in losing 69-66 at home. But Duro's team bounced back to roll Paraguay behind 24 points again from Zamora.
After taking the top spot in Group A, Venezuela started Group E action with two more wins in the August 2022 window. They began it by fending off Bahamas 86-81 on the road with Michael Carrera and Garly Sojo both scoring 17 points. Venezuela nearly gave up a 21-point lead in the second game but managed to beat Dominican Republic 76-72 - four players scoring in double figures.
The FIBA AmeriCup 2022 in September saw Venezuela beat Panama and Mexico in the group stage before falling to Argentina 76-53 in the Quarter-Finals. Back to the World Cup Americas Qualifiers in November 2022, the momentum from the previous window was gone as Venezuela were beaten by 38 points at Canada and then failed to hold a 14-point lead in losing 72-68 at the Dominican Republic.
The final window in February 2023 saw six Venezuela players score in double figures in a 35-point drubbing of the Bahamas at home. Venezuela lost the final game at home to Canada despite double-doubles from Michael Carrera and Colmenares.
But Venezuela got their World Cup ticket when the Dominican Republic surprised Argentina.
Venezuela were forced to wait until after the final game for their World Cup destiny
Best result at the World Cup
This will be Venezuela's fifth appearance on the global stage and the second back-to-back following 2002 and 2006, the country's debut coming in 1990. After failing to get through the first round in the first three tournaments, Venezuela finally broke through in the 2019 World Cup. They ended up finishing 14th of 32 teams for their best result.
Venezuela beating Nigeria in 2006
Last World Cup appearances
In 2006, Venezuela grabbed one victory over Nigeria in the Group Phase but finished with a 1-4 record to miss out on the Round of 16 and ended up in 21st place. Venezuela returned to the global stage for China 2019 and lost to Poland before beating Cote d'Ivoire and hosts China to reach the Second Round. But the South Americans dropped their two games to Argentina and Russia, taking 14th place overall.
Players to watch
Venezuela are the favorites to have the oldest squad at the World Cup with as many as nine players 30 years or older with good chances to make the final squad - seven of which are 33 or older. Michael Carrera, Jhornan Zamora, Nestor Colmenares and Gregory Vargas lead the team along with fellow 30+ veterans David Cubillan, Miguel Ruiz, Windi Graterol, Pedro Chourio and Heissler Guillent.
Garly Sojo - Venezuela's hope for the future
The 23-year-old Garly Sojo is one of the future hopefuls for the team to bridge the generation as well as Yohanner Sifontes (27) and Jose Materan (26). If Duro really wants to think about the future he might just bring one or both of two talented 19-year-olds: Italy-based Fabrizio Pugliatti or Enrique Medina, who stands 2.18m (7ft 2in).
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 and Brazil.