The Dominican basketball team was proclaimed champion after defeating the United States in electronic basketball. It is not a dream, the Dominican Republic reached the final, for the second time, of a FIBA continental championship, in this case in this format that is gaining space in e-sports.
This weekend (May 7-9), the Dominican team defeated Canada 89-48; lost to the United States 57-46 and in the semifinal defeated Puerto Rico 91-83, in three overtimes, with an offensive work of Steven Medina with 43 points and 10 assists. And this Sunday they defeated the United States in a 3-2 final to become champions of the North and Central American Conference of the FIBA E-Sports Open III.
The team was composed of Wady Tactuk, Yancarlo Severino, Alexander Pimentel, Steven Medina, Christopher Fabian, Cristian Garcia, Christian Guzman.
“We won in the last second thanks to a three-point shot by Cristian Garcia, which gave us the championship,” said Dominican team manager Ismael Diaz Tolentino. “We are super happy because we lost from them last time. We had that little thorn in our side. We knew we would face them in the final and we prepared for that,” he said.
The country is a long way from beating the United States physically, but not in this way. “Maybe we are a little further away in real basketball, but in e-basketball we are the best team in the world,” Diaz began.
As a result of the pandemic, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) organized the FIBA E-Sports Open, under the NBA-2K platform and its first event was last May 2020, reported Díaz Tolentino and Elka Jiménez, liaison between the Dominican Basketball Federation (Fedombal) and the entity managed by Díaz Tolentino.
The second championship was played last November and the Dominican Republic was runner-up after losing to the United States in a close final duel.
The FIBA E-Sports Open championships began “as a result of the pandemic”, as a way to keep the basketball public active. The reason for the absence of the first tournament is that the country was not very aware of the event, but in the second “the players did have a track record. Some were professionals and semi-professionals,” said Díaz Tolentino.
NBA franchises, 23 of them to be exact, have e-basketball teams, which play under the NBA-2K platform. With respect to the FIBA tournament “it is of national teams”, the manager informed, “and they divide them by (continental) conferences geographically, due to the Internet”, given that it is not the same to face a team from Africa against one from America, due to the satellite issue, which consequently there is a different speed.
“So far they make champions by conference, although FIBA’s plan – Díaz adds – is to make a world championship in person, but electronically and it would be with qualifiers, just as it is done for a World Cup”, in the way we know it.
Dominican League and something more
Diaz is an “ecologist” by profession, but he is passionate about sports.
He is the one who first created the Dominican Electronic Basketball League. And when the push for it became known, they connected with other leagues in South America and then “La Liga Latinoamericana” was born, also promoted by this Dominican, a native of Baní.
This is very serious. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is planning a virtual Olympic series for which it will join forces with five international federations and game publishers to compete in baseball, cycling, canoeing, sailing and motor sports.
The “Olympic Virtual Series” (OVS), which will take place before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (July 23-August 8), will begin on May 13 and continue until June 23, 2021.
The IOC is betting on e-sports. In a 2019 statement it notes that competition within eSports can be considered a ‘sporting activity’, players prepare and train with an intensity that can be compared to that of athletes in traditional sports.
Diaz said the plan is for “NBA2K to enter for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”
Among the 23 NBA franchises with electronic equipment are the Knicks, Celtics, Lakers and Pistons.
Here there are more Dominicans virtually than in the real world. Wady Tactuk (Lakers Gaming) stands out and next to him Eddy -Bohio- Perez (Lakers Gaming); Randolph Moreno (Pacers Gaming); Stanley -Majestic- Lebron (Kings Guards) and the debutant Cesar Martinez (Hawks Tallon).
This is also fun, because, Diaz explains, “just like the NBA, NBA2K goes through a process just like the NBA draft, they go through a combine, interviews with their teams, background checks and then the draft is held. This time “it was done virtually because of the pandemic, but usually it is in person and it is also done in New York,” just like the real thing.