MIAMI -- What a trip for J.J. Barea. First he meets with Louisville coach Rick Pitino at the Dallas Mavericks' team hotel to discuss Pitino's strong interest in coaching the Puerto Rican national team next summer in the pre-Olympic tournament in Argentina. (Monday morning Pitino and Puerto Rico made it official.)
Tonight, the Mavs' backup point guard will play in front of a large contingent including his parents, siblings, extended family and friends from Puerto Rico who have had this game circled since the schedule was released.
"I always play good [in Miami]. I hope we play well," said Barea, who attended high school in Miami for a better shot at winning a college scholarship, which he did to Northeastern. "I love it here. Everybody from Puerto Rico is coming. I only got like 12 tickets, but they already had their tickets planned out. They’ve been planning this from the summer. A lot of people are coming."
Barea said it was Pitino who pointed the Northeastern coach to Barea and ultimately brought him to Boston. As far as playing for Pitino as Puerto Rico hopes to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, Barea said he's pumped -- and so is Pitino.
"He’s ready. He’s excited," Barea said. "He was telling me already what we’re going to do. He was asking me about the guys, so I’m looking forward to it. He’s like, 'We’re going to pressure, we’re going to pressure full court,' so I think that will be a good experience for me. It’s something different and something different for the guys."