Sanchez back in the frame for Puerto Rico
The Guayama-born power forward has earned a good living doing what he loves, which is to play basketball. What the 28-year-old has not done, however, is take part in an Olympics. It's not been for a lack of trying.
The Boricuas made plenty of headlines the last time they played at an Olympics, at the Athens Games 12 years ago. They upset the United States on the opening day and finished sixth in the tournament, but Sanchez was just a teenager at the time and did not feature for the senior team until 2007.
After not playing last year when Puerto Rico finished fifth at the FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City, Sanchez's future with the Boricuas was in doubt. However, new national team coach Eddie Casiano has reached out to the veteran and gauged his interest in playing at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Belgrade. Sanchez has told Primera Hora that he is leaning towards making himself available for the event, which runs 4-9 July.
I spoke with Eddie a few days ago and we discussed the subject for a while. Eddie is a good coach and with him I won a championship at Mayaguez. I am inclined to accept because this is our last opportunity to go to an Olympics... - Sanchez
Sanchez knows how difficult the tournament will be. He played for Puerto Rico eight years ago at the OQT in Greece and did well. Known for his offensive prowess, he drilled eight of his 14 shots (57 percent) from long range.
He was 2 of 2 in the Boricuas' last game against Germany that had an Olympic spot at stake. Led by Dirk Nowitzki, though, Germany prevailed, 96-82.
Sanchez also played for a good Puerto Rico team at the 2012 OQT in Caracas but their bid to reach London ended in a 76-72 defeat to Lithuania. The Baltic side then qualified for the Olympics with a victory over the Dominican Republic.
The last time that Sanchez represented Puerto Rico, at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, he did not shoot the ball well. He did, however, make some eyebrow-raising plays on defense.
Sanchez would bring talent, and considerable experience to the OQT if he were to play for Puerto Rico, who will go up against Serbia and Angola in Group A. If they finish in the top two, the next opponent will be a Group B side - the Czech Republic, Latvia or Japan - in a Semi-Final. The two winners of the Semi-Finals will meet for the right to play at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
What I am missing on my résumé is an Olympics. At times, one dreams and desires to achieve his objectives. One wants to compete at the highest level and give himself a chance. Whether or not we achieve it, we'll see. But the opportunity is there. - Sanchez