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Dominican Republic finally makes it to the World Cup

After being oh so close, the Dominican Republic finally qualified for a major international hoops tournament last year at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas, Venezuela. The 2014 FIBA World Cup marks the first time the Dominicans are participating in the event since 1978.

The Dominicans, under the direction of University of South Florida head coach Orlando Antigua, are led by Jack Michael Martinez and James Feldeine (Quinnipiac). Martinez, a 6-foot-8 forward, is a high-energy beast on the boards who can score in the low-post, while Feldeine is their best overall scorer.

Martinez averaged 12.0 points and 9.4 rebounds during the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship.Feldeine had several monster games during the FIBA Americas Championship. He tallied 21 points in an upset of Argentina and then hug 20, 17 and 21 on Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Canada, respectively.

This is the Dominican’s first appearance in a world competition since 1978, though they have come close numerous times. They came close at the 2009 FIBA Americas Championship but finished fifth after a close loss to Canada, who ended up getting the final spot for the 2010 World Championship in Turkey.

In 2011, the Dominicans finished third at the 2011 FIBA Championship, yet only the top two teams clinched a place at the 2012 London Olympics – the Dominicans have never made an Olympic appearance.

Then the Dominicans lost a must win game against Nigeria, to miss out on one of the three spots open for the Olympic in the 12 team FIBA Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela.

Other key players include Houston Rockets guard Francisco Garcia and Eulis Baez, who played collegiately at Florida International and Western Illinois.

Former University of Louisville point guard Edgar Sosa is also a familiar name on the Dominican roster as is Eloy Vargas (Kentucky), Orlando Sanchez (St. Johns) and Ronald Ramon (Pittsburgh).

The Dominican Republic, ranked No. 26 in the World by FIBA, is in Group C along with the USA, Finland, Turkey, New Zealand and Ukraine.