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Creighton’s Gregory Echenique to Play on Venezuela National Team

The Creighton basketball offseason is beginning to look pretty busy. We already know that Doug McDermott was invited to try out for the USA Basketball U-19 team. We also know the Bluejays will take part in the Metro Summer Basketball League before heading on a trip to the Bahamas.

You can add another event to the list: Gregory Echenique has been invited to play for the Venezuela National Team this summer.

Echenique has been part of the different levels of the Venezuela National Team in the past. This most recent opportunity could lead to Echenique possibly participating on a potential Olympic qualifying team, White & Blue Review has learned.

Venezuela will be competing in the FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament that is being held in Mar del Plata, Argentina August 30 through September 11. Two teams will qualify for the 2012 London Olympics from this tournament. Brazil and Argentina are the tournament’s top two seeds, which also includes Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Panama, and Paraguay.

Due to the schedule required for the Venezuela team, Echenique will not be participating in summer league and will not be traveling with the team to the Bahamas. However, head coach Greg McDermott is going to split up the 10 allowed practices in July and August, which will allow Echenique to take part in half of the practices in preparation for the Bahamas trip.

As of right now, it is not known what kind of travel and other games may be scheduled for Echenique and the Venezuela National Team in preparation for the Olympic qualifier. But participating in the qualifier does make for an interesting wrinkle in his return to Creighton in the fall. Echenique will be preparing with the team in August and games will be played at the end of August until possibly the middle of September, with the Creighton school year starting in late August.

Games for the Olympic qualifier will be played at Polideportivo Islas Malvinas, which holds more than 8,000 and was originally built for the XII Pan American Games in 1995. They will start in pool play with Canada, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Cuba.

  • August 30 vs. Brazil
  • August 31 vs. Dominican Republic
  • September 1 vs. Cuba
  • September 3 vs. Canada
  • September 4-11 vs. Tournament play

The Venezuela National Team is still looking for a head coach. Leading the way of candidates for that position are former NBA and current D-League head coach Eric Musselman and Milwaukee assistant Joe Wolf. Musselman led the Dominican Republic last year before taking over the head-coaching job at Reno in the NBA D-League this past season.

If Venezuela does not qualify in the FIBA America’s tournament, but does finish third, fourth or fifth, Echenique and his team will have another opportunity next summer in a final qualifying tournament July 2-8, 2012, before the 2012 Olympics.

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For those keeping track at home, here are your calendar of events for Creighton basketball this summer:

  • June 17-24: Doug McDermott at U-19 training camp in Colorado Springs
  • June 19: Finalists announced for U-19 USA team.
  • June 24: U-19 team leaves for Europe.
  • June 30-July 10: U-19 competes in FIBA U-19 Championships in Latvia
  • June 30: USA vs. Egypt
  • July 1: USA vs. Serbia
  • July 2: USA vs. China
  • July 4-9: USA vs. Tournament
  • End of June through July: Metro Summer Basketball League
  • Mid-July: Basketball team using 5 of allocated practices for Bahamas trip
  • August: Gregory Echenique practices with Venezuela National Team
  • Early August: Basketball team using final 5 practices in preparation for Bahamas
  • August 11-18: Basketball team plays in Bahamas
  • August 30: Venezuela vs. Brazil
  • August 31: Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic
  • September 1: Venezuela vs. Cuba
  • September 3: Venezuela vs. Canada
  • September 4-11: Venezuela in final qualifying tournament
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