Mexico didn’t even qualify for the 2013 FIBA Americas tournament, getting invited only after Panama was banned from international play this summer. However, the 32nd FIBA world ranked team from Mexico has shocked the experts by starting the tournament 3-0.
This group of relatively unknown players is led by Hawks big man Gustavo Ayon and the point guard from the NBA D-League’s Canton Charge Jorge Gutierrez. They were not expected to be much of a threat to anyone but Paraguay, however, they have knocked off the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and only have Argentina left standing between them a first place in pool B.
Ayon has played for the Hornets, Bucks and Magic over the past two NBA seasons and just recently signed with the Hawks as a free agent. Not a lot was expected, but Ayon has been dominant for Mexico, averaging 17.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal over his first three games. Ayon saved his best effort for Venezuela when he had a monster 22 point 18 rebound 4 block performance in a surprising 65-56 victory. Mexico’s second leading scorer is Gutierrez. The D-League point guard has averaged 14.7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
Mexico’s big test comes this afternoon against the number 3 FIBA World ranked team from Argentina for the honor being the best team in pool B and the possibility of owning the best record to take forward into the second round (although the carry forward record depends on how all the teams in pool B finish – it’s complicated). Based on the play of the two teams thus far, one would have to seriously consider giving Mexico the edge.
Perhaps the biggest surprise story at the FIBA Americas so far this summer, be sure to check out the Mexico team page on FIBA.com.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.
You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors