Add an international gold medal to Calipari’s trophy case: the Dominican Republic National Team won the CentroBasket Tournament in Puerto Rico yesterday with an 80-72 victory over home country Puerto Rico in the gold medal game.
Bolstered by strong defense and an eight-point run late in the fourth quarter, the Dominicans put Puerto Rico away to win their third CentroBasket gold medal, and the first since 2004. Jack Michael Martinez was the leading scorer with 23 points and 11 rebounds, followed by guard Juan Coronado with 17, and Francisco Garcia and Eulis Baez with 11 points each. Most impressive was the Dominicans defense, a hallmark of Calipari teams, which held Puerto Rico to 38.4% percent shooting overall and limited J.J. Barea, Puerto Rico’s top player, to 7-of-19 shooting. Calipari praised his team for coming together and playing as one so quickly:
“This team has come together and become brothers in a short period of time. It’s amazing to sit and watch them respond to the coaching the way they have. To win gold for a country that is so deserving is a great feeling and I’m looking forward to continuing our run next week.”
Next week, the team heads to Caracas, Venezuela to try to qualify for its first-ever Olympics at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The top three finishers in the tournament will qualify for the Olympics in London, which begin on July 27th. Calipari will spend the week in Lexington before joining the team in Venezuela for the first game on July 2nd. The man who never stops said that coaching the Dominicans and the Wildcats has been mutually beneficial.
“Coaching last year helped me tremendously as I went into our season at UK, and I’m already making adjustments to our transition into some of our offense for this year. The experience with the Dominican team has become a learning lab for me.”
Go Cal. Go Antigua. Go DR.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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