SHANGHAI, BALIPOST.com – They are the joint-shortest team at the Basketball World Cup in China but the Dominican Republic are proving that size isn’t everything after winning both of their opening matches.
The Caribbean nation surged into the second round of the tournament on Tuesday with a gutsy 70-68 victory over the more fancied Germany, to go with an opening 80-76 win over Jordan.
“Maybe for a lot of people we are the tournament surprise,” said their husky-voiced Argentine coach Nestor “Che” Garcia after seeing off the Germans.
“But we believe in ourselves and now we enjoy this moment.
“But this is only one game, this team can do more things in the World Cup.”
Their place in the next round assured, the 54-year-old Garcia and his unheralded men are now sizing up the mighty France on Thursday with Group G supremacy at stake.
The Dominicans’ tallest player is the 6ft 11in (210cm) centre Eloy Vargas and the average height of their roster is 6ft 4in, according to governing body FIBA statistics.
That makes them, along with the Philippines — twice heavy losers in China — the shortest team of the 32 at the tournament. The tallest are Serbia at an average 6ft 9in.
The Dominicans will again be staring upwards at their opponents when they face France (average 6ft 8in), but forward Ronald Roberts says what they lose in height they make up for in other ways.
“We played with a lot of energy. They couldn’t match the energy the whole game and that was the biggest thing,” said Roberts, who plays club basketball in France, after the Germany victory in Shenzhen.
“We needed to bring the energy. We’re the underdogs, we’re a little bit smaller than these teams, but we play harder than these teams and that’s what’s going to keep us going.” (AFP)