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Carlos Arroyo is one of the players that the Miami Heat added to their roster after LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all announced that their talents would be in South Beach next season. With limited cap space, Arroyo inked a deal close to the veteran’s minimum to stay with the stat studded Heat. Carlos will likely be the back-up point guard in Miami though that role may not entail what it does on a regular team, as Wade or James may spend some time at point during the season.
That being said, Arroyo isn’t taking a back seat this summer when it comes to basketball. Carlos is the heart of Puerto Rico basketball according to his national coach and will be leading his country to the World Championships in Turkey later this month. Here at the World Basketball Festival in New York City, select players from the countries in attendance (USA, China, France and Puerto Rico) were chosen to be the faces of their country and Arroyo received that honor for Puerto Rico.
“Its a great honor. Its a great responsibility,” Arroyo told me about playing for his country, specifically during the World Basketball festival, an event designed to showcase basketball in countries outside the United States. “I feel proud to be apart of this and this team. Its an opportunity that I have every summer, to represent my country. Its something that I’ve always wanted to do and I love doing it.”
Arroyo helped lead Puerto Rico to a 92-76 victory over the Chinese National Team in the second game of a double header that also featured the United States vs France. Carlos had a team high 16 points (4-10 FG, 2-2 3FG, 6-6FT) as well as nine assists (second to fellow Puerto Rican and Dallas Mavericks guard Jose Juan Barea who had 10 helpers).
“It was a good game for us to find our rhythm,” Arroyo said of the game, one of Puerto Rico’s few contests before the Worlds kickoff in Turkey. “I think everybody contributed. We continue to get better as a team. China is a team that we will be facing in the first round so it was important for us to start off the game with a good rhythm. And obviously getting to know them is a little harder because you’re not used to playing them all the time. We saw what type of talent they have and we know what we are going to face.”
Arroyo played for Puerto Rico during the 2004 Olympics in Athina, Greece, averaging 18 points, five assists and two rebounds on his way to a sixth place finish. During his season with the Heat last season, Carlos averaged six points, three assists and two rebounds in 22 minutes a game. As you can tell, at least when it comes to scoring and dominating the basketball, Aroyo’s role is completely different with his national team than it is in the NBA which is a reverse transition compared to some of the Team USA players that are now playing reduced roles after being “the guy” on their pro teams.
Carlos told me that he is happy playing an extended role for his country and knows how important this is for not only him but also his home country. Though Puerto Rico is not viewed as a serious contender to win the World Championships, Carlos did acknowledge that his path will be easier with his trio of teammates (Wade/Bosh/James) skipping this summer’s events.
“In a way its going to be easier,” Arroyo said. “Its always good to play good competition but in another way its good for them to get their rest so we can have a good year. But yeah, for now, its good that I won’t be seeing them in a different uniform any time soon.”
I think the rest of the world can agree with Carlos on that one.