Former winner Garcia back to regain title for late Andy Ortiz
MEXICO CITY (FIBA 3x3 World Tour) – Back in 2012, Jonathan Garcia and Andy ‘Corky’ Ortiz combined to lead San Juan (PUR) to win the first-ever edition of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour. After a couple of years away from the 3x3 courts, the news of Ortiz’s tragic death led Garcia to dust off the Wilson ball and win the World Tour again.
“After what happened to Corky… He is the reason why we are back on the 3x3 scene,” the 28-year-old Puerto Rican explained.
On 23 May 2015, Andy ‘Corky’ Ortiz passed away in a car accident, at the age of 28, leaving the entire island in mourning.
The tears at the funeral mirrored the watered eyes on 22-23 September 2012, when Team San Juan defeated Split (CRO) to make history by winning the inaugural edition of the World Tour in Miami.
The 1.81m playmaker remembers:
“Winning the World Tour is such a great memory.”
“We were so excited, also because of all the sacrifices we had done for weeks to prepare for this event.”
In 2013, San Juan tried to go back to back but were stunned early and did not qualify to the World Tour Final. Then Garcia disappeared from the 3x3 circuit:
“I stopped following the games and focused on my basketball career for a while,” the sharpshooter admits.
The tragic events of 2015 changed everything and Garcia put together a competitive team called ‘Los Corkys’ to pay tribute to the late Ortiz. The team brings together four childhood friends from Caguas, a city that has produced champions like boxer Miguel Cotto.
“Compared to 2012, the team is not as big and explosive,” Garcia admits.
“But we are much stronger, with a lot of power in the low post and we have more shooters."
“On a personal level, I’m now wiser, more patient and I see and understand the game better.”
The team features the 2015 Puerto Rican pro basketball league’s rookie of the year Wil Martinez and the mighty Edgardo Rivera and Luis ‘Pela Coco’ Hernandez. Enough to win in Mexico and therefore make it to the Abu Dhabi Final? Garcia says he can’t wait to return to the 3x3 pro circuit and meet old and new faces.
“I’m getting more and more anxious as the event approaches", he confesses.
“The possibility of winning gets me very excited."
“We’re happy to see our old rivals from Denver are still around and now we know about [reigning champs] Novi Sad Al Wahda and how they play the game.”
Team Caguas was seeded in Pool B with the team that finished 3rd at the World Tour Final last year NY Harlem (USA) and local favourites Mexico City (MEX).