DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Two players on the University of Dayton women’s basketball team are on the road to the 2024 Olympics all while representing their heritage.
In the past, Anyssa Jones and Mariah Perez have been used to being the only Hispanic players on their team.
But for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, things could change. Jones and Perez could both compete as a part of Team Puerto Rico.
Perez said, “Growing up, I’ve always kind of been the only Hispanic on my team.”
But that won’t be the case on Team Puerto Rico, where the roster includes women from NCAA Division 1 to professionals.
“Basketball means a lot to the Puerto Rican community,” said Perez. “They’re willing to travel any place to support basketball.”
Jones said that when she steps on the court, she remembers who she is playing for.
“With our heritage and where we come from, especially because, you know, we’re representing those girls that are, you know, Hispanic who probably don’t get the same opportunity. So, you know, we’re really playing for them,” said Jones.
The women’s team made their first appearance in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, but they didn’t win any games. This year, Coach Jerry Batista said he’s ready to see his team play their very best.
“As Latinos and as well as Puerto Ricans, you know, we were excited about it, you know, we’re proud about it, you know, we worked hard — very, very hard to have the opportunity. And that’s what we did a couple of years ago, so now we are in the role to do it again.”
Pre-qualification rounds will kick off in November with 16 teams advancing to the Olympic Qualifiers in February.