The Puerto Rico basketball national team is one of the constants in most editions of the FIBA World Cup, previously known as the FIBA World Championships, appearing 17 times since 1957 and missing just two tournaments in that span. Known as “Los Doce Magnificos”-- translated to The Magnificent Twelve-- the Puerto Ricans will be bringing a veteran roster led by current and former NBA players in Jose Juan Barea, Carlos Arroyo and Renaldo Balkman.
Despite the consistent level of play that has brought them to the basketball world championships, Puerto Rico has yet to medal in this international event. Their best finish came at the 1959 FIBA World Championships in Chile and has since placed 7th or better in four other instances—6th place in 1963 Brazil; 7th place in 1974 Puerto Rico; 6th place in 1994 Canada and 7th in 2002 USA.
In the continental championships Puerto Rico has bagged the silver medal twice (2009 and 2013) and had a fourth place finish (2011) in the last three editions of the FIBA Americas. The most recent effort came in Venezuela where they beat the Dominican Republic, 79-67 to make the championship round and lost to champions Mexico, 91-89.
Puerto Rico 12-Man Roster at the 2014 FIBA World Cup Ramon Clemente (6'6", power forward) Indios de Mayaguez (BSN, Puerto Rico) Jose Juan Barea (5'11", point guard) Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA, USA) Alex Franklin (6'6", small forward) Indios de Mayaguez (BSN, Puerto Rico) Carlos Arroyo (6'2", point guard) Galatasaray (TBL, Turkey) Angel Vassallo (6'6", small forward) Leones de Ponce (BSN, Puerto Rico) Carlos Rivera (6'2", guard) Leones de Ponce (BSN, Puerto Rico) Jorge Bryan Diaz (6'11", center) Piratas de Quebradillas (BSN, Puerto Rico) Ricky Sanchez (6'11", power forward) Cagrejeros de Santurce (BSN, Puerto Rico) David Huertas (6'5", guard) Piratas de Quebradillas (BSN, Puerto Rico) Renaldo Balkman (6'7", power forward) Capitanes de Arecibo (BSN, Puerto Rico) Alexander Galindo (6'7", power forward) Cangrejeros de Santurce (BSN, Puerto Rico) Daniel Santiago (7'0", center Cangrejeros de Santurce (BSN, Puerto Rico)
The three-headed attack of Barea, Arroyo and Balkman are expected to lead the way for the Puerto Ricans. Barea is a proven scorer either with his team in the NBA, the Timberwolves or the international play. The spitfire point guard averaged 8.4 points and 3.8 assists last season in Minnesota; even better, he has upped that to 15.6 points and 4.2 assists donning the Puerto Rican jersey at the 2013 FIBA Americas.
Balkman was the leading scorer for the squad at 18.6 PPG while adding 8.8 rebounds per game and Arroyo averaged 15.8 points and 4.1 assists for Puerto Rico, which belongs to Group B of the world championships along with Argentina, Croatia, Greece, Senegal and the Philippines.
Puerto Rico Schedule at the 2014 FIBA World Cup Aug. 30 - Puerto Rico vs. Argentina Aug. 31 - Puerto Rico vs. Senegal Sept. 1 - Puerto Rico vs. Greece Sept. 3 - Puerto Rico vs. Philippines Sept. 4 - Puerto Rico vs. Croatia
Not surprisingly, Puerto Rico has the most games played against South American rivals Argentina in this group. Puerto Rico has losing record against Argentina (12-13); an even worse record against Greece (1-7); tied with Croatia (1-1) and winning records against Senegal (4-0) and the Philippines (3-1). Overall, Puerto Rico has a record of 21-22 against teams in Group B.
Can Puerto Rico buck the odds and beat the top contenders in Greece, Croatia and Argentina? Or will they struggle even against unheralded squads like Senegal and the Philippines?