JAMAICA will challenge Group A rivals Canada in the opening match of the 2013 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Championship today at the Poliedro de Caracas in Venezuela.
The Jamaicans, who ramped up preparation ahead of the tournament, lost to Canada in two recent friendly matches played in front of a sold-out crowd in Toronto.
The Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA) President Ajani Williams said the games — which he said were both broadcast live on television — offered plenty of positives for the Jamrockerz.
He pointed out that the team was without key players, centre Jerome Jordan and forward Samardo Samuels, as well as head coach Sam Vincent.
"We lost both games, but we dominated game two until the last four minutes we lost by four points. We didn't have our head coach and two of our strongest players so to battle Canada like that was pretty impressive for us," Williams told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.
The Jamrockerz continue their quest when they square off with Uruguay tomorrow, before opposing 1995 champions Puerto Rico on September 2.
The final preliminary round game for the 'Rockers will be on September 3 against 2009 winners Brazil.
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, which is to be staged next year in Spain.
The United States, who took the Olympic Gold in 2012, automatically qualifies for the 2014 FIBA World Tournament.
Ja squad — Dylan Ennis, Adrian Uter, Patrick Ewing Jr, Garfield Blair, Weyinmi Rose, Akeem Scott, Durand Scott, Jerome Jordan, Christopher Walker, Adrian Forbes, Samardo Samuels, Vashil Fernandez.