ARG - Mata takes aim at spot in Argentina squad
BUENOS AIRES (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Argentina's Marcos Mata is hoping his performances at the South American Championship earn him a place in the country's squad for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
National team boss Julio Lamas has already confirmed that Facundo Campazzo, Carlos Delfino, Manu Ginobili, Leo Gutierrez, Walter Herrmann, Andres Nocioni, Pablo Prigioni and Luis Scola will be with Argentina when they compete in Group B, in Seville, against Puerto Rico, Greece, Senegal, the Philippines and Croatia.
Mata, who played for Argentina four years ago at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey and then again in 2012 at the London Olympics, told FIBA.com: "Right now, my primary focus is on the South American (Championship) in Venezuela and then it's Julio who will decide.
"For the time being, I have faith and I'm very anxious to be a part of the World Cup team."
Argentina are waiting to see if Delfino completes his recovery from a foot injury in time to play in Spain.
They are also expecting to hear in the coming days about the status of Ginobili, who won his fourth NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in June but soon after discovered he had a stress fracture in his foot.
"We hope that all the players will be able to come," said Mata.
"We have a good team on paper and I believe that if all the players are available, we have a team that can compete and the team will certainly have a lot of enthusiasm to do well."
Mata will be coached by Lamas' assistant, Regatas Corrientes boss Nicolas Casalanguida, at the South American Championship.
"Casalanguida is a good coach," Mata said.
"Last year, he was a (Liga Nacional) champion (with Regatas) and this year, they reached the final of the championship.
"I'm delighted for him that things are going well but also for Fernando Rivero, who is the coach of Penarol and he'll be (on the coaching staff) at the South American Championship. I'm very happy he'll be there at the South American Championship."
Mata believes that once the likes of Ginobili, Scola and Delfino are gone, there will be good young players to carry on the winning tradition.
"There are a lot of players," Mata said.
"Obviously, the most talked about is Facundo Campazzo, who had an immense season (with champions Penarol).
"I hope he either goes to Spain or goes elsewhere to continue improving and raising his level."
An athletic forward, he excels on the defensive end and played an average of 25 minutes a game for coach Aito Garcia Reneses.
Cajasol's season drew to a close when they lost to Valencia Basket in the Quarter-Finals.
"I'm happy with the work that we did throughout the year," he said.
"We didn't expect to be in this position so we are extremely proud.
"I think we have to look at the positives and value how much we improved as a team, and as a group."
Mata was happy with his decision to go to Spain for the 2013-14 campaign.
"I believe that going to Spain helped me become a better player, or at least that’s what my aim was," he said.
"It was a bit strange for me. Everything was new, everything was different, but I adapted well."
Mata says basketball in the Liga Endesa is very different to what he was accustomed to playing in Argentina.
"In Spain, the game is more dynamic and faster," he said.
"You have players of a higher caliber and it’s much more complicated."
Mata had intended to continue in Spain but decided this month to sign for Brazilians Vivo/Franca Basquete Sao Paulo.