Gutierrez living a Mexican dream
GRAN CANARIA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - When Mexico took a 51-47 lead over Lithuania with 6:25 to play in the third quarter of their tournament opener at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, a monumental upset was brewing.
The FIBA Americas surprise packets were riding the classy playmaking of Jorge Gutierrez and a large and vocal band of supporters, who were matching every bit of noise coming from Lithuania's Green Army.
"It was wonderful, I wasn't expecting that many people," Gutierrez said afterwards.
"We really enjoyed having them support us."
Because of this, Gutierrez is well aware how many keen eyes are watching his team from across the Atlantic.
"It means a lot for us to be here because we've worked so hard, but it means a lot to Mexico," said the well-spoken 25-year-old.
"Playing for Mexico, we want Mexican basketball to be on a world stage and compete against the world's best teams."
While the central Americans ultimately ran out of gas against Lithuania, they sent a message to the rest of the field at Spain 2014 that last year's continental title run was no flash in the pan.
With another crucial game next up against Slovenia, Gutierrez is keen to learn the lessons and claim a victory that would put one foot into the knockout rounds.
"We competed against a really good team (against Lithuania), unfortunately we couldn't finish it off but we have to learn from it," he said.
"Every team at this tournament is tough, and we've got to prepare and play the same way from the beginning to the end. We've got to learn that."
But whatever happens, you can bet the youthful Gutierrez will be playing with a smile on his face.
His stylish drives, disruptive defense and slick passing have been developed over years of wondering what it would be like to lead Mexico onto the biggest stage.
"Like you say, it was a dream, now I'm living it," he grinned.