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Puerto Rico is trusting their work as they approach the Women's World Cup Qualifiers
MIAMI (United States) - The Puerto Rico women's national team has grown in recent years, under the guidance of coach Gerardo Batista and a core of players led by Jazmone Gwathmey, Jennifer O'Neill, Pamela Rosado, Tayra Meléndez, Isalys Quiñones, Dayshalee Salamán among others.
Since 2018 this group has elevated the name of their country. Their achievements include two gold medals at the Centrobasket Women's Championship, a fourth place and a silver medal at the FIBA Women's AmeriCup, and participations in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Now the Puerto Rican squad has another great challenge in the Qualifiers for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022, where they will face Belgium, the United States and Russia between 10 to 13 February, in Washington DC (United States), with the purpose of getting a ticket to their second world championships in a row.
"We have been able to meet the goals that we have been setting for ourselves,” Batista said.
"We have created a culture and we have been able to develop a national program which makes us proud, but now we are at a point where the most difficult thing is for us is to stay at this elite level. The only way to improve is to play against the best. There are still teams that surpass us in strength and stature, but our work has been really good, and we are going to continue preparing ourselves."
Batista is still in the process of forming the team that he will take to Washington, and together with the Puerto Rican Federation, he already has an idea of the team's preparation plan.
"For this tournament, we are not going to have the women who are in American college basketball. For example, India Pagán and Jada Stinson who were in the Olympics will not be available. We are still defining the composition of the team. Ideally for this type of tournament, we would go with the most experienced players. Our plan is to focus directly on Washington, go with the players who are available and then gradually add those who are in Europe."
Batista recognizes the difficulty in a group in which only two places are available, since the United States automatically qualified after winning Olympic gold, but is confident in the work and chemistry of his squad.
"It is a very difficult group. We play against the best team in the world - the United States. We know Belgium well who we have faced in recent years, and they have dominated us. Russia has a big, strong team. I think that all qualifying tournaments are complicated, but we go into this determined to do our work with respect for our opponents but without any kind of fear and we are going to prepare for the challenge. The goal is to win games and qualify. We have done it in the past and on a good day anything can happen."