2013 FIBA Americas Preview, Part 2

In Part 1, we broke down the contenders heading into The FIBA Americas tournament, which begins August 30, in Caracas, Venezuela, and runs through September 11. Now let's discuss the rest of the field fighting it out for one of those coveted top four spots.

As a reminder, the 10 participating teams are divided into two groups for opening-round play:

Group A: Brazil, Canada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Uruguay
Group B: Argentina, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela

TIER II (Outside chance for World Cup bid)


If I had to put a sleeper tag on any team, it would be Jamaica, which makes its first appearance at The FIBA Americas.

Even without Roy Hibbert, who seems finished representing Jamaica internationally, this athletic unit projects to be tough on the boards, particularly the offensive glass, and able to cause havoc on the defensive perimeter and in transition. Their suspect outside shooting could be a problem, however.

Samardo Samuels, a three-year NBA veteran who signed this offseason to play in Italy, is a crafty scorer down low who should be fed often around the rim. And while Adrian Uter is a bit undersized at 6-foot-7, his energy and strong build allow him to rebound, finish and block shots.

Weyinmi Efejuku Rose will man the wing; the former Providence standout is an elite athlete with a solid shooting touch. Durand Scott, the reigning ACC defensive player of the year, also likes to attack the rim. Patrick Ewing Jr. will see time at both forward positions and is another disruptive defender and strong rebounder. Former New York Knicks center Jerome Jordan is also on the roster.

At point guard, Dylan Ennis is a creative playmaker who just recently transferred to Villanova. Ennis will split ballhandling duties with Akeem Scott, another strong athlete who likes to push the pace and harass on the defensive end.

I'm reluctant to put Jamaica in the contenders tier because there is a chance Jamaica doesn't make it out of the first round. Although talented, this team lacks experience playing together in this type of setting. They will likely fight with Uruguay for the right to move on to the second round.


The host team's fortunes took a big hit when Greivis Vasquez needed ankle surgery earlier in the summer, forcing him onto an injury list that already features other key players like Greg Echenique, Oscar Torres and John Cox.

But history might be on its side. Venezuela finished fifth at the last Americas tournament in 2011 by pushing the tempo and shooting well (51 percent overall in 2011), particularly from 3-point territory (40 percent).

Despite some rough outings since, including the pre-Olympic qualifier it hosted last summer, Venezuela will likely follow the same blueprint. But don't expect the same results.

With Vasquez out of the mix, Hector Romero once again becomes the top option. The 33-year-old undersized forward has struggled with injuries the past few years, but he was one of the top players in 2009 and should still be able to use his strength to attack and draw fouls.

The last-minute addition of former Atlanta Hawk Donta Smith was a big coup for Venezuela, too. Smith was the Israeli League player of the year for Maccabi Haifa and he possesses a terrific all-around game. The 6-foot-7 forward uses his long arms to disrupt defenses and is a very good ballhandler and passer for his size.

Smith should take some pressure off Romero to create offensively, but there is very little offensive talent besides those two. Even though Venezuela is playing at home, I just can't see them competing for a qualifying spot with such a depleted roster.

TIER III (Little-to-no shot at World Cup bid)


Mexico failed to qualify for the Americas for a second straight time, but it was awarded a spot in the field after Panama was banned from international play this summer. But without much depth or offensive firepower, don't expect it to do much with the opportunity.

Gustavo Ayon, now an Atlanta Hawk, is a crafty player who moves well off the ball, rebounds and passes. UCLA center Lorenzo Mata is a live body who will board and challenge shots. And former Fresno State Bulldog Hector Hernandez will work as its stretch-4.

The backcourt is led by Paul Stoll, who, although 5-foot-10, is a dangerous shooter who can create shots for himself or his teammates and pester opponents on defense.

Orlando Mendez-Valdez, the 2009 Sun Belt player of the year at Western Kentucky, is a steady ballhandler with dangerous shooting ability, and Jorge Gutierrez, the 2012 Pac-12 player of the year at Cal, adds another aggressive defender on the perimeter.

I just don't know how this team is going to generate points with any consistency. With Paraguay in its first-round bracket, Mexico should advance to the second round, but it has basically no shot at a qualifying bid.


Uruguay is historically a middle-of-the-pack team, and this year should be no different, as its matchup with Jamaica should determine if it advances to the second week of action.

As in the past, Uruguay doesn't have much depth. But it does still have Esteban Batista, and it'll need him to produce every night.

Batista has been one of the more dominant players at the America tourney since 2007. He might be the strongest guy in the field and he uses that advantage to carve out space around the rim. He's a threat to go for 20 points and 10 rebounds every game.

Alongside him will be 37-year-old Nicolas Mazzarino, who they coaxed out of national-team retirement.The quick-triggered Mazzarino is one of the best shooters in the tourney and Uruguay will rely on him to be their top perimeter scoring threat.

Combo guard Leandro Garcia-Morales has been a steady figure on this team for many years and he's a dogged defender. Speedy guard Bruno Fitipaldo will share ballhandling duties and brings clever passing skills to the mix. The 21-year-old Mathias Calfani is a promising prospect who is an active athlete who crashes the glass, and Sebastian Izaguirre is another bouncy forward who crashes the glass and can hit jumpers.

Traditionally, Uruguay has been a weak offensive unit that stays afloat because of its aggressive defense, and with little outside shooting and rebounding, that could very well be the case again.

Uruguay is not a pushover; its core group has been playing together for a while and it can compete with any team in its opening group. Whether or not it can overcome Jamaica's raw talent, though, will likely decide its future.


Paraguay hadn't qualified for the Americas for 22 years before participating in 2011. And just like last time, it took Team USA declining an automatic bid to get it here.

It went 0-4 in 2011, with its only competitive game coming against Panama. I expect a similar fate this time -- if not worse, given that it will be without two of its top players, Javier Martinez and Bruno Zanotti.

It would be a miracle if Paraguay got out of the first round.

Click here to read the 2013 FIBA Americas Preview, Part 1