“We’ve spent 20 years out of this major event and we have learnt a lot in that time”
It will have been 20 years since Argentina last competed in a World Championships when they roll onto court for the 2014 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships opener in Incheon, Korea, on Saturday 5 July.
A tenth-place finish in Edmonton, Canada, in 1994 was the last time the South Americans competed at a World Championships. Their journey back into the world’s top 16 has been impressive, including a famous victory over reigning Paralympic gold medallists, Canada.
Head Coach Mingo Patrone has overseen a generational change amongst the team and is confident he now has the right group of players to move Argentina back up the world rankings.
“We’ve spent 20 years out of this major event and we have learnt a lot in that time,” said Patrone.
“The team was well prepared to play in the Copa America Qualifying Tournament and to play the world’s best team, Canada, was a special motivation for us.
“For us to beat Canada, it no doubt served to increase our confidence and establish ourselves as a team.”
The game has changed a lot in the past 20 years and for Argentina, it’ll also be a long time since they would have seen some of their international rivals up close.
In their pool, Argentina have drawn European Champions Great Britain, hosts Korea and fellow South American qualifiers Mexico, in what has shaped to be the team’s biggest ever challenge.
However, Coach Patrone is confident and insists the team has done all they can to prepare.
He said: “We’ve improved a lot defensively and worked really hard on our play in transition.
“There is still the need for improvement on the team’s effectiveness in the paint and increasing our field goal percentage.”
In Korea, they will no doubt carry the underdog tag with them against some of their higher ranked opponents, but Patrone says a top ten finish is certainly within reach for the developing South Americans.
“We have been absent from the World Championships for a long time so we know it will be difficult to finish in the top ten places but we are confident of having good performances.”
Argentina start their 2014 World Championships campaign against Great Britain on Saturday 5 July at 9:00 KST.
Elsewhere, 2010 winners Australia will look to get the retention of their world title underway against Sweden.
For a full schedule and results from the men’s 2014 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Incheon, South Korea, visit the tournament’s website.