Nine years later, Mexico will be in a FIBA World Cup. Third time in 49 years. Second in 45. Not every day, because it’s not a daily thing either that most of the Mexican basketball structures, so historically eroded, look in the same direction. The Mexican selection He reserved his ticket with an imperfect, extremely untidy match, which he might have lost if a higher-ranking rival had billed the mistakes. But it didn’t play. Not today. Today was the day to reap the fruits, the fruits suffered after the drought. Today imperfection is a mere lesson.
February 2021. The Mexican Basketball Sports Association does not exist, in the eyes of FIBA. Mexico is suspended from all official international activity. The only way to jump on the court is through provisional permits and the promises of the emerging Ademeba board of directors to correct the necessary requirements to lift the sanction: make expenses transparent, federal government expenditures, modify bylaws, grant the keys to the offices to FIBA to guide the transition. February 2023. In Montevideo, Omar Quintero’s ’12 Warriors’ dream. 40 minutes ahead. Things do not start well. Stage terror, it will be. Paco Cruz slips on the parquet, Paul Stoll bounces the ball at his feet, Fabián Jaimes slips the ball from his hands; and Uruguay deploys heavy artillery from all parts of the line of three. It seemed that Mexico had left all the gunpowder in Colombia. 26-18.
Omar Quintero had three special weapons in the hold: Gabriel Girón, Gael Bonilla and Jorge Gutiérrez. The three energized the formerly called ’12 Warriors’, today worthy of resuming the nickname. Fabián Jaimes and Israel Gutiérrez sealed the paint, they dominated their own board at will, almost always on second chance, Gutiérrez expanded the demilitarized zone, and Girón found the lost gunpowder. The triples began to fall and Mexico recovered its memory. Partial 12-28 with pure Quintero brand basketball, seasoned with an unusual defensive discipline (20 points after loss and 9 steals, in total). “The offense is going to flow, we have to work on defense,” had been his mantra.
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The only problem: Luciano Parodi. Quintero never found a solution to stop the Uruguayan guard, author of 25 points and top scorer of the night. A sniper who left terror percentages (7/7, 100% from triple) and some unnecessary scares. The formula to counter Parodi: hit back. Paco Cruz (17+5+2) accepted the challenge. Without finesse in the triple, he found the gaps between Rodríguez and Iglesias to deposit the ball: and if he did not do it, Ibarra and Jaimes were attentive to correct. Bonilla’s magic, leaning over, harassed, gave him a glimpse of a lonely Fabián, who was waiting with his hands free under his hoop. Uruguay only came close with triples, but the diagram was already working for Mexico. At good Time.
10 minutes to the World Cup
10 minutes. The most important for Mexican basketball since October 2015. The unfortunate FIBA Americas of the Palacio de los Deportes. The heirs of the ’12 Warriors’, the base of the current squad, still had a last word. Jorge Gutierrez, Paul Stoll, Hector Hernandez, Orlando Mendez, Gabriel Giron. May the final dance be in the Philippines, in Indonesia, in Japan. Not in Montevideo. Now or never. That’s how it went. Mexico deactivated Uruguay with circulation, rebounding fence and defense, the possible, against Parodi and Ubal. Girón’s miraculous triple, before Wachsmann’s imperial mark, would not have fallen on any other occasion. A try of a million. But it happened. And also that of Paco Cruz, with two seconds on the possession clock and a direct impact on the glass. His fervent cry was that of a generation, a project, a nation that beats basketball and yearns to feel represented in a team again. Her last possessions were a handshake. A mission accomplished.