04 - 09
July 2016
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Mexico ready to give it their best shot

MADRID (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Sergio Valdeolmillos has been around in international basketball long enough to know what awaits his Mexico team at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Turin, Italy, come July.

The Mexicans will have to win the six-team event to clinch a spot at the Rio de Janeiro Games. They will play Greece and Iran in Group A and if they progress with a top-two finish after those two games, El Tri will go up against Italy, Croatia or Tunisia in a Semi-Final. The Semi-Final winners will ultimately square off with a spot at the Brazil Games at stake.

I see it as very complicated, but we are going to work towards that and above all, what is important is that we are in the international arena and we have a good team. - Valdeolmillos

Valdeolmillos, a Spaniard, has coached Mexico in numerous tournaments the past several years, most notably the past couple of FIBA Americas Championships and the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Since 2013, every year has been special for the national team.

Mexico won the FIBA Americas Championship for the first time in 2013 after riding the back of their superstar, Gustavo Ayon. Their performance that year sealed a place in the World Cup and Mexico did well, advancing from the Group Phase to the Round of 16, where the United States finally eliminated them.

Last year had the makings of being the best of all because Mexico was the host team for the FIBA Americas Championship.

All went according to plan until the Semi-Finals, when they let a lead slip against Argentina and lost. Canada then defeated them in the Third Place Game with a shot at the death from Cory Joseph.

The overall performance with Mexico has raised the profile of Valdeolmillos, who this season was put in charge of relegation-threatened Estudiantes in Spain's top flight. He has steered the Madrid outfit to some important wins to boost their chances of survival.

At the OQT, Mexico will not play on the opening day but rather on Day 2 (5 July) against Iran and then on Day 3 (6 July) against Greece.

As part of their preparations for the OQT, Mexico will compete in the Centrobasket in Panama 20-26 June. The other sides at the that tournament will be Antigua, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Panama.

One of the players that Mexico are planning to take a good, long look at is guard Cezar Guerrero, who just finished his collegiate career in America at Fresno State.

One of Mexico's assistant coaches, Ramon Diaz, said: "He is Mexican-American and has a lot of talent that could help us tackle the two big tournaments we have this year, the Centrobasket of Panama and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Italy."

Guerrero, who hails from California, played as a freshman in American college basketball at Oklahoma State before transferring to Fresno State. He had three solid years playing big minutes for the Bulldogs.