SAN JUAN (2011 FIBA Americas Championship) – Argentina are the number one side in the FIBA World Rankings thanks to the wonderful performances of their basketball greats such as Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola in international competition.
Now fans in Argentina will get a chance to see them wear the national team jersey on their home soil following the weekend decision to award Mar del Plata the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship.
Indeed, the stakes were high for Rio de Janeiro, Toronto and Mar del Plata as each city was a candidate to host the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship and all made impressive presentations on Saturday.
Toronto was eliminated after the first round of voting. Mar del Plata and Rio de Janeiro went head-to-head in the second round with the Argentinian city winning by 13 votes to three.
Part of Argentina’s strategy was to remind everyone of how its basketball heroes had played a big role in international competitions for the past decade, culminating in an Olympic gold medal performance in 2004 in Athens.
Ginobili, Nocioni and current national team point guard Pablo Prigioni all featured in the bid presentation. They said they wished to say goodbye to their fans, as part of the “Golden Generation” that also took bronze at the Beijing Olympics two years ago and claimed a silver medal at the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis.
Argentina’s representatives in San Juan were elated after the voting.
“It’s an immense joy for Argentinian basketball,” said Argentina Basketball Federation president German Vaccaro. “But we must continue working.”
The tournament will be very important as it not only determines the champions of the FIBA Americas but also the teams from the region that will play at the London 2012 Olympics.
The 2011 FIBA Americas Championship will be played at Polideportivo Islas Malvinas with a capacity for more than 8,000 fans.
The Secretary of Sports of the Province of Buenos Aires, Alejandro Rodriguez, was in San Juan and commented on what had made Mar del Plata successful.
“What made us win was our political coherence, the capacity to organize, the unity of the nation, of the (Buenos Aires) province and of the municipality with the Argentina Basketball Federation,” he said.
“Mar del Plata has shown its capacity for this type of event and has the right conditions to stage the pre-Olympic tournament.”
Argentina hosted the first FIBA World Championship back in 1950 and basketball has always had a foothold in the country and especially in Mar del Plata.
“The province has more than 8,000 basketball clubs, which is one of the most popular sports in our country and has a history of the organization in Buenos Aires of the 1950 World Championship, obtaining the title by beating none other the United States,” added Rodriguez.
“There won't be any inconveniences as every year they host the finals of the province where there is a million people.”
Argentina, Brazil and Canada all made good cases for hosting the event and that was pointed out by FIBA Americas Secretary General, Mr Alberto Garcia.
“The three countries came in prepared to win,” he said. “All made excellent presentations and were ready to become the hosts of this event. Argentina made a good economic proposal and I am happy for the result.”
“We saw three excellent presentations,” said FIBA Americas President Horacio Muratore. “I congratulate the three federations who offered everything they could in each proposal.
“The Central Board said that the three countries were ready to host this tournament and opted for Argentina. I congratulate the three federations and we will have a successful tournament in Mar del Plata.”
Earlier on Saturday, Mr Muratore was made President of the FIBA Americas for 2010-2014.
He had been Vice President but assumed presidential responsibilities in March, 2009, following the resignation of Julio Subero of the Dominican Republic.
“Personally, I bring the experience that I acquired with 16 years in charge of our successful federation,” Muratore said.
It was also announced that FIBA Americas Secretary General Emeritus Jenaro "Tuto" Marchand will not continue as a member of the FIBA Central Board. FIBA Americas Secretary General, Mr Alberto Garcia, will replace him and join Mr Muratore, Val Ackerman and Usie Richards as representative of the Americas on the board.