Isabela Jourdain, the youngest AmeriCup participant at 15, aims to become an important player for Cuba
SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) – Many national teams have taken the FIBA Women's AmeriCup as a lab to test their young talent and different combinations that set forth their long-term international preparation.
This is the case of the Cuban team, who have included in their roster Isabela Jourdain, a 6’2” fifteen-year old player who’s the youngest of the tournament. Jourdain has already played in each one of Cuba’s first three matches in the tournament’s Group Phase. But for Jourdain this experience, aside from seeking an immediate impact, is aimed at ranking up international millage, try the women's game at a FIBA level and, above all, learn from her more experienced teammates.
“For me, it's been a very good and important experience because thanks to these veteran young women I've caught up with some basketball aspects and experience. And well, I feel good playing with these veteran players,” said Jourdain to FIBA.basketball after one of the games.
For team coach Margarito Pedroso, Jourdain is part of a group of young Cuban players that will lead the generational rebuilding that the national team has set forth to return to its best level.
“Our idea is to develop her,” said Pedroso about Jourdain. “We have a group of young players in Cuba and we've decided to work toward rescuing women's basketball in Cuba.”
This is the first year that the coach leads the Cuban squad and he pointed out that women's basketball in his country seeks immediate results and will soon be bringing on board more young players.
“I’d never faced a national team; only as an assistant,” said Pedroso. “So, I took on the task with the President of the Federation to design a strategy that would allow us in the short term to reach the historical results that Cuban basketball has achieved. And we're working in that direction. We have five or six young women back in Cuba in that same age and with a considerable talent that could be developed to face upcoming commitments.”
The lack of international experience is one of the main factors that the Coach wishes to amend in the program. At least, in Jourdain's case, the process has already begun.
“In these first games, as is usually the case, we have a lot of limitations due to the lack of international games played or, in other words, competitive experiences. That’s what happened to her (Jourdain). But I believe that she's been adapting to the temperature, to the demands, to the heat of this competition,” said Pedroso.
Although her contributions have been discrete in the first games of a tournament that includes several players with a stellar international profile, Jourdain continues to learn by the minute the ingredients that will take her to reach her dream of being a great player at home – or overseas, if necessary.
“The level here is a little bit higher,” said Jourdain about the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup in comparison with local Cuban basketball. “My goal is to become an important player in Cuba so that Cuba continues to grow day after day.”