More than two years after leading the University of Hawaii to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, former Rainbow Warrior fan favorite Aaron Valdes is taking his air show to the international level.
Valdes, was named to Mexico’s national team roster recently and will take part in the FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifier starting later this month.
“When I found out I was going through the names and I saw five or six guys on our team from this past year, so I was like oh, that’s awesome for them and then like one of the last names I saw was my name and I was just so excited. To see my parents walk in the room and getting to tell them that, they were just so excited. Having that is a real blessing for me and especially where I’ve been the last couple of years and able to come back has been pretty awesome for me. I’m excited for the opportunity” Valdes told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
Mexico will aim to be one of the seven teams from the region to earn a spot to the 2019 World Cup.
After an injury in Lithuania, Valdes was grounded for much of the 2017 season and returned home to California for rehab until landing a spot in Mexico playing for Soles De Mexicali.
“All the stuff I went through the year before made a this worth it. It just shows you not to give up and stuff. That’s the most important thing for me is just keeping strong” said Valdes.
In 2018, Valdes led his new team in his rookie season to a league championship and was named the league’s newcomer of the year award winner, averaging 13-points per game which led to his placement on the Mexican National team.
First up on the schedule for Valdes and his team will be the second stage of qualifying. Mexico at 2-2 is currently tied for second with Puerto Rico in Group C of the Americas Region and will open play against the United States (4-0) in Mexico City on June 28th.
“It’s crazy. I saw that too and I was just smiling. It’s awesome. If you’re not playing against the best people than why are you playing? That’s the best part about basketball. I think we have a lot of talent. We have what it takes. We saw them play, we saw them earlier this year in the NBA All-Star game. I wasn’t able to play because I got hurt the day before, so getting to see them and play them again to see where we’re at, it will be an interesting game. I’m really excited to play, especially in that environment” said Valdes.
Following Mexico’s game against Team USA, they will face Puerto Rico (2-2) on July 1st in San Juan.
The 12 teams that competed at FIBA AmeriCup 2017 and the 6th- and 7th-placed teams from CentroBasket 2016 and the South American Championships 2016 – Bahamas, Cuba, Chile and Paraguay – are playing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers.
The top 7 teams will advance to China for the 2019 World Cup starting next August.
For more information on the FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers including standings, schedules, and statistics CLICK HERE.