Later this evening at the Coliseo Evangelista Mora in Cali, Colombia, Colombia and Peru’s female basketball players are scheduled to battle it out for the final available qualifying spot for the 2015 Para Panamerican Games in women’s wheelchair basketball. Losses yesterday in the final games of round play insured neither team had guaranteed qualification, as only the top three teams in the four team deep competition qualified on through.
Colombia goes into the battle for the third and final qualifying spot with the worst record, losing all three games they played. They lost 16 – 49 to Argentina, 17 – 68 to Brazil, and 21 – 32 to Peru. Peru’s sole win came against Colombia. They lost 30 – 46 to Argentina, and 26 – 50 to Brazil.
Gladys Gómez has been a key figure for her side Colombian so far, and the team captain is expected to be called again tonight to continue to lead her side. Alexánder Carrillo from Spain has been a key figure in trying to elevate the quality of play for Colombia’s women. Coming into this competition, he was quoted by El Pais Colombia as saying, “Currently there is not a high level of play for this team because it is the first time many of them have played the sport, but for the amount of time they have been played, they have evolved well. The girls are learning schemes game, those are things that have to be worked towards to find a common goal, which is to qualify Toronto.”
Behind the scenes, a number of the Colombian players have faced a lot of difficulty to get on the court. When Luz Marina Cortez was 18 years old, she got caught between gang violence in Medellín and ended up partially paralyzed and needing to use a wheelchair. She used the event to try to make goals for her life, including becoming an elite athlete. After giving swimming a go but realizing it was not for her, she tried powerlifting. After two months of training in that sport, she was discovered and invited to join the national basketball team.
The Colombian roster includes Evelin Serna, Magda Victoria, Rusmalia Sepulveda, Luz Muñoz, Johan Moreno, Gloria Morales, Yolanda Montero, Luisa Martínez, Sandra Henao, Marley Gutierrez, Gladys Gomez and Luz Cortez.
The Peruvian side is coached by Hector Salinas. The team includes Carmen Hancco, Jeny Robles, Edith Velasquez, Julia Zegarra, Braulia Segovia, María Tapia, Carmen Oblitas, Merlni Tunqui, Norma Garcia, Pilar Jauregui, and Lucero Garcia.