SANJAY MYERS With the JamRockerZ AT THE FIBA AMERICAS CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS in Caracas, Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela — Jamaica's basketballers face a virtual must win situation when they challenge Group A favourites Puerto Rico in today's International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Championship game at the Poliedro de Caracas.
The game is scheduled for a 1:00 pm start Jamaica time.
The Jamrockerz, first-time entrants at this level, have already lost to Canada and Uruguay. They currently lie at the base of the group standings alongside 2009 winners Brazil.
Puerto Rico, many-time winners of the tournament, are perfect after convincing wins against Brazil and Canada.
Despite the contrast in the performances of the two teams so far, and the vast experience of his opponents, the Jamrockerz head coach Sam Vincent is unflinching in his belief that an upset is on the cards.
According to Vincent, Jamaica need to cut down on the errors that hurt them in previous games.
"(The approach) will be the same like every game. We are going in to compete hard and give ourselves a chance to win. We are not discouraged, but we have to make less mistakes in order to win.
"We have to box out and rebound, we got to keep our turnovers down, and we got to contest open shots. If we do the things we need to do technically then we give ourselves the chance to win," he told the Observer after practice at the Bolivariana de Venezuela Military University yesterday.
The Jamaicans, who finally had a break from the tournament after back- to-back games on Friday and Saturday, enjoyed a lively training session, where they ran through numerous offensive and defensive drills.
They could be boosted by the appearance of forward Patrick Ewing Jr, who missed the previous matches due to a sprain to his right shoulder suffered in training days ago. Vincent said the player "looks good" for participation against the Puerto Ricans.
Based on the FIBA Americas system, two points are awarded for a win and a consolation point is given for a loss, hence Canada lead the standings with five points from two victories and a defeat.
Puerto Rico have four points from two wins, Uruguay have two from their lone outing and Jamaica and Brazil also have two a-piece from their respective pair of matches.
The Puerto Ricans, who were scheduled to play Uruguay up to press time last night, could move past Canada with a win.
The final preliminary round game for the 'Rockerz will be tomorrow against the Brazilians.
The 2011 Americas champions Argentina, hosts Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Paraguay are the teams in Group B.
The top four countries of each preliminary group advance to the second round, which begins on September 5.
The 2013 FIBA Americas Championship awards four spots to the World Cup in Spain next year.