Fermin Selected for Dominican Republic Men’s National Team
LISTEN TO INTERVIEW WITH AMAURYS FERMIN
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The Cal Poly men's basketball team is on the verge of celebrating the first Olympic athlete in program history following the recent announcement that former Mustang point guard Amaurys Fermin was named to the 12-member Dominican Republic Men's National Team that will attempt to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
To reach the country's first Olympic tournament, the Dominican Republic will have to grab one of the three final qualification spots at the 12-nation FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, scheduled for July 2-8 in Caracas, Venezuela. The Dominican Republic was drawn into Group C alongside Russia and South Korea. The top-two finishers in each of the four three-team groups advance to the quarterfinals. The champion, runner-up and third-place nation will complete the Olympic tournament field.
The United States, the defending Olympic and FIBA World Championship titlist, qualified automatically for the 2012 Olympic tournament along with host Great Britain. Other qualified nations include Argentina and Brazil (FIBA Americas Championship titlist and runner-up, respectively), Spain and France (FIBA Europe champion and runner-up), Australia (FIBA Oceania champion), China (FIBA Asia champion) and Tunisia (FIBA Africa champion).
"I've talked to (the federation) since I was 19, but I wasn't able to participate with the national team because of school," said Fermin, who led the Big West Conference this past season with 119 assists. "It's an Olympic year and I really wanted to be part of it. They wanted me to come out and I jumped on the experience. I'm coming from a program where I was one of the older players and now I'm playing with NBA guys. I'm a rookie again and happy to be learning."
After missing the first half of the Dominican Republic's Kentucky-based training camp to finish school and graduate from Cal Poly with a degree in history, Fermin departed the central coast Monday to join up with his future teammates. He saw his first action with the national team on Wednesday evening when, playing alongside Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford and Sacramento Kings guard Francisco Garcia, Fermin came off the bench to score seven points, grab six rebounds and distribute five assists against just one turnover during a 101-97 overtime victory against Team Ignition, a collection of NBA Developmental League players. During the contest, played at Northern Kentucky University, Fermin hit two late free throws to help ice the Dominican Republic's victory.
"I think I made a great first impression," said Fermin, who landed in Puerto Rico on Friday morning for the 2012 CentroBasket Championships, a biennial competition for national teams from Central America and the Caribbean and a warmup for the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. "The next day, one of our assistant coaches said I was coming with the team to Puerto Rico. We all know how important this is and that it's a great experience for the country. We're getting a lot of support from back home.
"This is a great experience and it wouldn't have been possible without the help and support of my coaches and teammates at Cal Poly."
Led by Kentucky head coach John Calipari, the Dominican Republic just missed qualifying outright for the Olympics at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship. With the tournament champion and runner-up automatically qualifying for London, the Dominican Republic dropped an 83-76 semifinal decision against Brazil. Aside from earning the bronze medal at last year's FIBA Americas Championship, the Dominican Republic's best international showings include titles at the 1977 and 2004 CentroBasket Championships and a silver-medal finish at the 2003 Pan American Games.
A native of Bronx, N.Y., Fermin was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic before emigrating to the United States with his family at the age of seven. Fermin, who holds dual citizenship, averaged 24.0 points per game as a senior at Kennedy HS and 17.5 points and 8.2 assists per contest as a sophomore at Hagerstwon (Md.) College. Having missed the 2009-10 season after transferring to Cal Poly and the 2010-11 campaign after suffering an ACL injury, Fermin started all 33 games for Cal Poly this past year and finished second among conference players with 3.61 assists per game.
"Amaurys had a great season at Cal Poly and he deserves this international opportunity," said Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero, who guided the 2011-12 Mustang squad to 18 victories, a total that ranks as the second-highest figure in 18 Division I seasons. "However, I'm most proud of the academic commitment he made this past spring in order to graduate with his class. He worked out on a regular basis following the Big West Conference Tournament to stay in top shape. He is a fine example what it is to be a student-athlete at Cal Poly."
En route to reaching the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament for the first time in five seasons, Fermin helped the 2011-12 Mustang squad finish sixth among Division I programs in opponent rebounds per game (29.1), 24th in opponent points per game (60.5) and 28th in rebounding margin (plus-5.5). Among Big West programs, Cal Poly finished second in opponent three-point percentage (33.5). Also one of the more efficient programs in Division I, the Mustangs ranked 12th nationally with just 10.6 turnovers committed per game and 37th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.19-to-1).
Cal Poly's defensive prowess and overall efficiency during the 2011-12 season helped forge a 10-4 home record that featured the program's highest win total inside Mott Gym in five years. The Mustangs, who allowed just 58.4 points per home game this past season, won their final five games in Mott Gym to secure the No. 4 seed for the Big West Tournament and clinch a second-successive top-half finish in the conference standings for the first time in five years.