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Mexico-Spain2014-13-09-2013
Mexico (MEX) - Winners of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship
13/09/2013
ESP - History-making Mexico join the party in 2014

MADRID (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - The tournament field for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup now has 14 teams.

Spain were assured of a spot when they were made hosts of the event and the United States earned a place by winning the Olympic gold medal last year.

Numerous other sides have qualified this summer.

Iran captured their third FIBA Asia Championship title in the last four tries to earn a place in next year's hoops extravaganza.

The hosts of that event, the Philippines, finished runners-up to qualify while Korea also booked their place by winning the Third-Place Game against Chinese Taipei.

Australia beat New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania Championship, after which both teams qualified for the World Cup.

At the AfroBasket in Cote d'Ivoire, Angola dominated once again after falling to Tunisia in the 2011 Final.

The Angolans defeated Egypt in the Final, while Senegal knocked of the tournament hosts in the battle for third.

Angola, Egypt and Senegal all qualified for the World Cup.

The latest sides to clinch berths are surprise package Mexico, along with Puerto Rico, Argentina and the Dominican Republic.

All four countries sealed their spots by reaching the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Americas Championship, which was just played in Caracas, Venezuela.

The Mexicans' last appearance at a FIBA World Championship was in 1974, when the tournament was staged in Puerto Rico and the great Manuel Raga averaged 25.8 points per game for the national team.

They made sure their visit to Caracas this summer was even more special because not only did they qualify for the World Cup, but they captured the continental title for the first time.

Mexico's 5-2 record by the end of the Second Round was good enough for a spot in the semis.

NBA center Gustavo Ayon averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds for Mexico.

After scoring 24 points and corralling 12 boards in the 76-70 Semi-Final victory over Argentina, Ayon had 20 points and 16 rebounds in the 91-89 Final win against Puerto Rico.

"I can't put into words what it feels like to do something as historic as this for our country," Ayon said.

Mexico's Spanish tactician Nicolas Valdeolmillos will now have an opportunity to coach in the world's most important basketball event in his own homeland.

"Leading a country is a dream and to be in a World Cup, wherever it is, for a coach is a luxury, especially if it's in your country," he said.

"The truth is that it's a joy."

Paco Olmos, the Spaniard who coached Puerto Rico and got them into the Final, would have celebrated the title triumph himself had Alex Galindo been able to knock down an open three-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer but the ball drew iron and bounced away.

Getting to the top four and into the World Cup wasn't enough to ease the pain.

"Mission accomplished, no…we wanted to go for the gold," he said.

"Hopefully next year we can do well and have a World Cup that will make Puerto Rico proud.

"Yet Spain is a long time from now and a lot can happen."

Argentina, No. 3 in the FIBA Ranking Men, looked as if they may not qualify for the World Cup because they had to win their last two games in the Second Round.

Riding the back of Luis Scola, they thrashed Uruguay 89-63 and then ground out a 73-67 triumph over Canada.

In that do-or-die game for both Argentina and Canada, Scola had 28 points and seven rebounds.

Scola and Co lost to Mexico next but won the Third-Place Game against the Dominican Republic.

"The positive conclusion is that we have talent and material to build on," said Scola, who had to carry much of the scoring load for a young Argentina squad this summer as it played without veterans Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni.

"The negative, which really isn't a negative, is that we lack work. We have a lot of work ahead. Obviously, too, we are a young team."

Winning enough games to get into the top four for the Dominican Republic brought a huge sense of relief for the players.

The Dominicans narrowly missed out on a spot at the London Games when they played at last year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

"I have spilled so many tears from past defeats," said Dominican veteran Jack Michael Martinez.

"Thank God that this time, there were tears of joy and I am very proud and happy."

The Dominican Republic last played in FIBA's flagshipt event in 1978.

The last qualifying six spots for the World Cup will be claimed at EuroBasket 2013, which is currently underway in Slovenia.

Later this year, four countries will receive wild cards to the World Cup.

The process of application for the four wild cards for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup will start following the conclusion of EuroBasket 2013, the last qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The exact criteria will be communicated at that time to the teams that participated in the continental championships but did not qualify for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The final decision will be taken by FIBA's Central Board during its meeting in Buenos Aires on the 23-24 November.

FIBA

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