Cuban basketball: “One thing is with string, and another with violin”

Cuban women’s basketball is in decline, the same that all Cuban team sports have been going through for a long time, and various formulas are being sought to get out of this stagnation, especially given the development of many other countries in that and the other disciplines, even at the level of the Central Caribbean area.

The signing of contracts abroad, as a development showcase for our scoring talent, is one of them, as well as the reincorporation, under the protection of our National Federation, of Cuban players who play in other Leagues in a self-managed or individual manner.

This, in the absence for more than two years of our main scenario of domestic growth: the Superior Basketball League, stopped by the scourge of COVID-19, as well as the burst sport competitions in other categories.

So, it is urgent to implement all possible mechanisms in order to return to some regional elite environment, starting from the idea that we currently appear in the position 32-222.4 points of the ranking female seniors, and in the 55-11.2 in the youth for ladies. Meanwhile, in the men’s we ended up at 65-143.6 among the elite teams, and in the youth we did not appear in the first hundred quintets. Be careful, these ranks are made up at each level, based on performance in qualifying international competitions.

Items to consider

In this x-ray of burst sport there are some variables that must necessarily be considered:

Contracts: Here we start from the idea that in the past year 2021 basketball was the third sport with the highest number of personnel contracted in foreign leagues, with 12, only surpassed by volleyball (38) and baseball (37).

Now, what does this presence of our players in the professional club system represent?

In the individual order, a lot. The evolution that Jasiel Rivero has shown, immersed in the Spanish ACB, is indisputable; Karel Guzmán, in Romania, and Yoanki Mensía, in Argentina, just to cite the most notable examples.

They are joined by others such as Pedro Bombino and Lisván Valdés, also key players in the tricolor formation, and others.

The first thing is the fact of staying active, playing matches in another qualitative level of quality, and nurturing other more contemporary visions of the game, with the different dressings that adaptation to the European, South American, and Central American and Caribbean systems could mean, since It is in these three scenarios that almost all of our players radiate, now with the future presence, in addition to the Dominican Republic, of the talented Isabela Jourdain (18 years old and 1.88 meters), for the whole of the Portuguese Swimming Federation , from that country.

It should be noted, for example, that due to the inactivity of our main league competition, these pieces of the national preselection have continued with their training process, improvement of their playing abilities and accumulated games, properly speaking.

Traveling back in time, we find that during the second half of the 70’s and 80’s of the last century, both Cuban teams, endorsed by their prestige, played matches, preparatory tournaments and international tournaments, either as hosts here in Cuba, or in other latitudes, mainly in Eastern European nations, members of the extinct socialist camp.

It is enough to mention the Spartaqueade of the Friendly Armies, the Games of Good Will and other high caliber battles, given the power of many of those countries in basketball.

To which we add joint training camps and other extremely profitable stays.

The current scenario is very different from then. Rising costs, visa situations, the pandemic scourge for two years, and other issues, have behaved as a ballast, in addition to economic hardship, especially speaking of a collective sport, and which goes out of the circle, in addition to the so-called strategic.

The remuneration variable also counts for these players, and even as part of their headings they are taxed in favor of the development of the discipline in the domestic sphere. Being shown in other windows could also translate, depending on the caliber of each one, into possible sponsorship of a sports brand, not only on an individual level, but also in terms of the drive of the club in which they are a member.

These are some essential issues, to which is added the fact of exchanging experiences, both on and off the field, and directly, with stellar players, to a greater or lesser extent, nurturing from them, as well as from the technical group that directs, and then try to pour as many of those experiences here, at home.

on the other side of the court

Of course, returning to the phrase of our popular proverb, one thing is with a string and another with a violin. The contract theme throws numerous positive elements; the reintegration of some of the so-called Cuban legionnaires, as much, but there are issues impossible to define:

The first of them, associated with the fact that the game dynamics of our national team differ considerably from those applied by the clubs and our pieces inserted in them.

Another, the fact that our coaches, according to a game philosophy rooted for decades in the actions of our casts, and according to the characteristics of a generation that is no longer here, as well as a basketball that has been diametrically revolutionized, they need to be trained, tempered to the concepts that govern basketball today.

The possibility of inserting some of our technicians in those league scenarios could well be handled. The volleyball has also opted for that experience, either with the support of our Federation or on an individual level, and although in basketball, Rainel Panfet and some other coach have been able to overturn and enrich their knowledge in Salvadoran and Nicaraguan basketball , these scenarios, qualitatively, are not the most connoted.

Another issue, for me, core, lies in the fact of mixing all the flow incorporated with the dynamics of the national casts. the word team work is crucial, and although, in recent times, the extremely high professionalism and outstanding talent of the members of a given national team allows them to reduce the time they work together at the national team level, they continue to have a notorious importance, and in our particular case, seem more necessary.

The fact of declining in the level of play, both in the men’s and women’s quintet, towards the last quarters of the game and the final minutes of each quarter, in correspondence with the increase in pressure, and the urgency of greater effectiveness and cold blood to carry out the actions, is associated with those gaps that still persist, with that breakdown of understanding between players and clash management strategy, with the fact that we still have a long way to go, when we see ourselves as a fearsome quintet or « matador” is about.

We lack that surgical precision, banish nerves, circulate the ball correctly and find the player with the best shot selection criteria or uncheck to define a play that we have.

In the last men’s World Cup window, in that match in which we lost 90-95 to the United States, we provided a face close to those standards.

However, the next day, against Puerto Rico, the same problems as always surfaced.

So, depending on the necessary growth, it is time to align all the variables that affect the level of play of our teams, whether they are those that are in correspondence with what our contracted players can contribute, those that derive from the work here at home to the different levels, and even those that go through the rescue of recruitment and competitive school system at the municipal, provincial and national levels, which I remember that, in my days as a student-athlete, became one of the main quarries of development, detection and monitoring of future level players.

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