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PUR - Allende looks to his father in becoming Puerto Rico leader
DUBAI (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Leandro Allende didn't just lead Puerto Rico in scoring in their surprise victory over Spain in first day action at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship. He also collected seven points in the final 72 seconds as the debutants knocked off the 2013 U16 European champions, 67-65.
And a big part of Allende's success goes back to his father - who knows a thing or two about playing for Puerto Rico.
"He taught me everything I know - how to pass, how to shoot, how to dribble," said the younger Allende, who had 16 points and five rebounds against the Spaniards at Al Ahli Arena.
When asked what players he looked up to growing up, Leandro said: "My dad, always my dad. He's my idol, from the very beginning."
Leandro, who was born in Puerto Rico but moved to Florida a few years ago, has a good all-around game, which helped him drive to the basket after a long rebound to set up a three-point play that gave Puerto Rico a 61-60 lead with 1:12 minutes left.
His next time down the court, he hit a leaning lay-up and later calmly hit two free-throws with 25.9 seconds remaining to make it 65-62.
"It's big. This is a huge so the world knows we have good talent and that we can play and beat anybody in the world. It's a big, big thing for Puerto Rico fans. I'm proud of my guys," Allende said of his team's winning start.
The 1.98m wing player points to a scrimmage against Spain just before the tournament as a source of confidence for him and his team that they could beat them.
"We knew that we could beat them. Coming into this game, we knew the mentality needed to beat them from the beginning," he said.
Allende said his teammates are not done with just this victory.
"The expectation for this whole tournament is to get into the final eight and, if possible, get a medal," he pointed out.
If that happens, Puerto Rico will likely send a big thank you to Leandro's father Luis for helping turn his son into such an excellent leader.