Historic victory: After 20 years, Puerto Rico men’s basketball team heads to Paris 2024

Historic victory: After 20 years, Puerto Rico men’s basketball team heads to Paris 2024

By Mivette Vega

July 8, 2024

Puerto Rico will be slotted into group play in France with Serbia, South Sudan, and the US.

The Puerto Rico national men’s basketball team qualified for the Olympic Games for the first time in 20 years.

On June 7, the team obtained its ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, after beating Lithuania in a packed Coliseo de Puerto Rico. 

RELATED: Puerto Rico’s women’s basketball team is going to the 2024 Summer Olympics

Puerto Rico got 23 points from José Alvarado, 18 points from Tremont Waters, and topped Lithuania 79-68 to claim the 12th and final spot in the field for the Paris Games.

“Obviously, this game was very important for us and the island,” Alvarado said. “But we knew it was more than just basketball. We knew how great we had to be to represent this island and the love they gave us was amazing. We just wanted to do as best we can for them.”

For Kazys Maksvytis, Lithuania’s leader, the defensive play of the players and the euphoria of the 13,504 fans, who were present at the Coliseum were a key piece of the victory.

“The great atmosphere was a factor in Puerto Rico’s victory. I thank all the fans who came, both from Puerto Rico and our Lithuanians,” Maksvytis said after the game.

Among those who celebrated Puerto Rico’s victory in a big way was Bad Bunny, who was captured on video at the Coliseum.

Puerto Rico will be slotted into group play in France with Serbia, South Sudan, and the US. The Americans and Puerto Rico also played in the 2004 Olympics, with Puerto Rico winning 92-73.

Rokas Jokubaitis scored 16 points and Domantas Sabonis scored 10 for Lithuania.

“We had to come together to make history,” Puerto Rico coach Nelson Colon said.

Previously, Puerto Rico was part of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

RELATED: Juanma López Jr. follows father’s footsteps for Paris 2024 Olympics

The national women’s basketball team also qualified for Paris 2024. This is the first time in history that the men’s and women’s national teams will compete at the same time in the Olympics.

So far there are 52 Puerto Rican athletes who will participate in Paris 2024, 15 more than those who participated in Tokyo 2020.

AP contributed to this story.

Author

  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.

CATEGORIES: SPORTS
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