17 January, 2019
31 March
In Mexico, an exciting Group B
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In Mexico, an exciting Group B

MEXICO CITY (DIRECTV Liga de las Américas 2019) — Group B of DIRECTV Liga de las Américas 2019 starts this Friday, and Juan de la Barrera Gymnasium in Mexico City is ready to host the four teams that will fight to get one of the two slots available for next stage.

Real Estelí (Nicaragua), Soles de Mexicali (Mexico), Franca (Brazil) —the most recent winner of the DIRECTV Liga Sudamericana 2018 —and hosts Capitanes de México will be featured in this group.

The two Mexican squads are coming in currently in a high-level after accumulating more than 30 games in the local tournament. In fact, both share the first and second place of their respective Southern Conference. Capitanes register 23-11, while Soles sustain a 21-11 mark.

Both teams are also in the middle of positive streaks. The capital city team led by Spanish coach Ramón Díaz, are ranking in five wins in their last six encounters; while los Soles, coached by Iván Déniz (also from Spain) are tallying up six consecutive wins.

All this competitive background will be important as they try to reach the immediate goal —going on to the Semi-Finals.

“It's a dream come true to compete with the best teams in the continent. It's a very important commitment, not only because of the results — that we hope are positive — but because we’ll be able to compare (with the rest of the teams),” commented Coach Díaz to online press outlet Estadio Deportes.

“We’ll be facing three very different teams. Nicaragua is characterized by Puerto Rican basketball culture, they have a lot of individual scoring talent. The Brazilian team are much more organized than what we're used to in the local leagues. And as for Soles, a rival we already know, they have added two reinforcements and are aiming for the top,” added the strategist.

The Capitanes roster includes figures like Héctor Hernández, Pedro Meza, Daniel and Gabriel Girón, as well as Cuban player Ysmael Romero, Panamanian Ernesto Oglive, and Dominicans Rigoberto Mendoza and Luis Montero.

The Mexicali squad are also armored, with Orlando Méndez, Lucas Martínez, Branden Dawson, Rayvonte Rice, Lance Goulbourne, and recent additions Jaleel Roberts and Aaron Fuller.

“We arrived with good timing. We're very hopeful and expect to do a good job representing Mexicali and the state of Baja California. The arrival of Fuller and Roberts give us length and we’ll be prepared to face the continent’s strong team,” said Déniz to the team's press department.

In search for more

Franca are still savoring the champagne with which they celebrated in December their DIRECTV Liga Sudamericana 2018 title, and now they want to go a step further.

Helinho Rubens’ troop are still showing a great level at the Brazilian NBB League and are absolute leaders with a 14-2 record and a four-victory streak.

The Amazonians will play with their main men: Didi, Lucas Dias, Cipolini, Jimmy De Oliveira, Rafael Hettsheimeir, David Jackson, Elinho, Alexey and Andre Goes. However, Goes, Didi and Hettseimeir are coming in with physical discomforts.

“The whole team is coming. ‘Hett’ didn’t play in the most recent game (at the NBB), but he’s recovered. Goes and Didi, who were suffering from muscular pains, are also (recovered). The team is confident and motivated for the tournament,” said Coach Helinho to Brazil's GCN.

Finally, Real Estelí, who won their spot in this event after winning the Central American Club Champions Cup will try to do a good job but, the difference between them and their rivals is that they haven’t established a rhythm and they've only prepared for two weeks before coming to Mexico.

However, the club is almost completely reinforced with figures from Puerto Rican basketball, including trainer Carlos González, which guarantees they’ll be ready for the task.

“Our goal is to qualify to the next stage. We have a real chance of moving forward, we have a talented group of players that have the chance of achieving that goal. There's no doubt that we're worried about the short time we had to prepare, but we've done good work in the training sessions, and there's the advantage that the players already know each other,” analyzed González for Nicaragua's Metro newspaper.

The Boricuas that were added are Isaac Sosa, Guillermo Díaz, Miguel Berdiel and Ricardo Sánchez. Also, Jared Ruiz, who has double nationality, will play with Nicaragua. Kevin Foster will be another reinforcement that’ll join locals Barthel López and Noel McKenzie.

The first game day for the group will feature Franca vs. Soles, starting at 6:40 PM (local game time), and then Capitanes and Estelí, starting at around 9:00 PM (local game time).

PHOTO - Capitanes