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 VENEZUELA (VEN) 
3rd appearance (2 consecutive)

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Aiming at the top 10

Venezuela want to claim a better place than they did in 2002 when they finished 14th at the World Championship in Indianapolis. Head coach Nestor Salazar can count on an experienced and talented team led by Oscar Torres.

It took a lot of time for Venezuelan basketball players to put their country on the map of world basketball. Playing on the same continent as the United States, Argentina and Brazil left them in the dark until the beginning of the 1990s. In 1989, Venezuela finished fourth at the Tournament of the Americas and qualified for the first time to a major international competition: the 1990 FIBA World Championship in Argentina. The team was then led by a frontline composed by Carl Herrera, Alex Nelcha and Victor David Diaz. They finished at a decent 11th place and put their country on the map. Next year, they beat all their historic rivals and won the South American Championship for the first time. In 1992, they reached the final of the Tournament of the Americas before being defeated by the original Dream Team. But it was enough to qualify for their first ever Olympic Games in Barcelona. Still they could finish no better than again 11th place. The top Venezuelan players had proven themselves on the international level and then took advantage of it. Carl Herrera joined the Houston Rockets in the NBA in 1991 and even won the NBA title in 1994 and 1995. Alex Nelcha also achieved a great career, mostly in France. Victor David Diaz played in several countries across South America before coming back to his native country.

Diaz led the National Team back to the FIBA World Championship in 2002 in Indianapolis. The National Team also featured a 35-year old Carl Herrera and Venezuela's new generation led by Richard Lugo and Oscar Torres. They left only Algeria and Lebanon behind them, claiming 14th place.

If Herrera is now retired for good, Victor David Diaz remains the captain of the National Team. At 36 years old, he is the leader on the court and the last witness of the glorious days of the Venezuelan National Team. But Diaz wants to write a new page of history with his younger team-mates. Oscar Torres is by far the best of the bunch and is now considered the superstar of the National Team. He played in the NBA and has been in Russia for two years. He is a shooting guard who is hard to stop one-on-one and has vastly improved his defence. Héctor Romero proved himself as the second offensive weapon at the 2005 FIBA Americas Championship. He is an explosive combo-forward who may play in the NBA next season as he is in contact with the Portland Trail Blazers. In the middle of the paint, Richard Lugo is a solid center with excellent rebounding and shot-blocking skills who played in Europe.

National Team head coach Nestor Salazar relies on a very experienced team as most of the members were already part of the team at the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis. The squad is getting old and is likely playing its last competition in this competition, before being rejuvenated.

Miguel Angel Marriaga is the most promising Venezuelan player. This 22 year-old center is already a solid player able to help the team by grabbing rebounds or blocking shots. The 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan will be a great opportunity for him to play against the best players in the world and gain experience at the international level. He will likely be the reserve center behind Richard Lugo. Carlos Cedeño is the other big prospect for Venezuelan basketball. The 20 year-old point guard is potentially an NBA player as he is tall and very skilled.

Nestor Salazar hopes his team could finish in the top 10 of the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan. Like Argentina and Brazil have done, Salazar wants his team to control the ball and work until the end of the 24-second clock to find patiently an open shot. Basically he would like his team to play like a European one. That's why he scheduled a lot of preparation games in Europe to warm up before the official competition. At the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan, Venezuela will first meet Lebanon and then Nigeria, two teams they need to beat to have a chance to qualify for the Round of 16. If defeating France or a rejuvenated Serbia Montenegro team seems to be a hard task, Argentina looks definitely out of reach. But, who knows…
ACHIEVEMENTS IN FIBA COMPETITION
 Season   Competition   Placement 
2004 U21 South American Championship for Men 3rd place 
2004 South American Championship for Men 3rd place 
2005 FIBA Americas Championship for Men 3rd place 
2007 South American U17 Championship for Men 2nd place 
2008 South American Championship for Men 3rd place 
2008 South American U15 Championship for Men 2nd place 
2012 South American Championship for Men 2nd place 
PARTICIPATION IN FIBA COMPETITION
 Season   Competition   Last Achieved Round 
2002 World Championship for Men Classification Round (13-16)
2003 World Championship for Junior Men Finals
2003 South American Championship for Men Final Round
2003 Panamerican Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men Quarter Finals
2004 U21 The Americas Tournament for Men Final Round
2005 South American U16 Championship for Men Final Round
2006 FIBA World Championship Preliminary Round
2006 South American Championship for Men Final Round
2006 South American U16 Championship for Men Final Round
2007 FIBA Americas Championship Quarter Final Round
2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men Final Round
2009 South American U17 Championship for Men Final Round
2009 FIBA Americas Championship for Men Qualifying Round
2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men Finals Round
2010 South American Championship for Men Final Round
2010 South American U15 Championship for Men Final Round
2011 South American U17 Championship for Men Final Round
2011 South American U15 Championship for Men Final Round
2011 FIBA Americas Championship Second Round
2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament Preliminary
2012 South American U15 Championship for Men Semi Finals Round
2013 South American U17 Championship Final Round
2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Men Second Round
2014 South American Championship for Men Preliminary Round
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