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PUERTO RICO HERALD
Check Out Jazz Point Guard Carlos Arroyo, 5 From P.R. Named To Softball Hall
By Gabrielle Paese
November 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
Eighteen points and 13 assists is not bad for your first day on the job replacing John Stockton as starting point guard for the Utah Jazz.
That's how Carlos Arroyo's first game went down and coach Jerry Sloan seems intent on giving Arroyo the job -- even though Arroyo missed two subsequent games with a twisted ankle.
Arroyo and Spaniard Raul Lopez are currently the heirs apparent to Stockton's throne and as long as Arroyo's ankle isn't an issue, all signs point to the Puerto Rican getting the starter's job over Lopez, a former first-round pick who sat out two seasons with a knee injury.
Armed with the confidence gleaned from a summer starring for Puerto Rico's national team at the Olympic qualifier and the Pan Am Games, Arroyo looks even more determined than before.
"People were surprised to see the caliber of game I played but I think I have the ability to do that and much more," said Arroyo during an NBA.com conference call in Spanish earlier this week. "I have the talent to be in the NBA and make my career here. I knew I was doing well [in the Jazz's opener against Portland] in assists but I didn't know how many points I had scored. In the third quarter I missed a few but I didn't let it get to me and instead concentrated on the next ones. What really gave me confidence was knowing that coach [Jerry Sloan] left me in for the entire second half and believed in me."
The Fajardo native who played his college ball at Florida International, said his sprained ankle would not keep him on the sidelines for long.
"I didn't play those two games because it was a little tender and I hope to be back in the game soon because it feels a lot better. I have had to play with pain and get used to it but now I'm ready to go again," said Arroyo, who had two previous NBA seasons advance in fits and starts. "I sprained it two days before the first game against Portland during a practice that was open to the fans. I'm sure that first game made it much worse and because of that we decided to rest it for a few days."
In addition to his game, what's also impressive about Arroyo is his perseverance. He was not signed out of college and he endured two NBA seasons in various stages of player limbo with the Toronto Raptors and then the Denver Nuggets. He did some time in the Spanish league. He spent a lot of time on the bench for the Jazz last season and was not immediately re-signed after his one-year contract ran out. Arroyo was a free agent for most of this past summer and the Jazz didn't re-sign him until July 31, just prior to the Olympic qualifier in San Juan.
Still, he never saw a cloudy future.
"My goal is to remain in the best league in the world and to do that I need to keep working like I have and maintain my discipline and work ethic," said Arroyo. "Everyone knows it's a privilege to play in this league and I'm very grateful for the chance to play in the NBA."
Arroyo said isn't paying too much attention to the inevitable comparisons with Jazz former point guard John Stockton.
"Ever since I came to training camp that's been the constant question," said Arroyo. "I always say that it's unfair [to compare me to him] and think that I can do in one season what he did in 18. That takes time. To be like him I'd have to play a lot of minutes and the only thing I can do is take advantage of the opportunities given me. The key to success is to be Carlos Arroyo, not Stockton or some other player."
Arroyo said the team's offense this season is completely different now that Stockton and Karl Malone are no longer there.
"All the plays have changed. Last season on our fast break the only player who ran the court was Karl Malone and this season everyone runs and the plays are made for the one and the two. A lot has changed and anyone can pass the ball."
5 from P.R. named to International Softball Hall of Fame
Ivelisse Echevarria, Betty Segarra, Clara Vazquez, Jose "Tuto" Agosto and Rafi Serrano were all among the 19-member Class of 2003 named to the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame this week. Echevarria, Segarra and Vazquez all had illustrious playing careers representing Puerto Rico while Agosto was named for his coaching and Serrano for his work as an administrator.
The five join five other fellow Puerto Ricans previously inducted. They are Ismael "Chavalillo" Delgado, an administrator, who was named in 1989 along with pitcher Jorge Tanco; Alejandro "Junior" Cruz, the former mayor of Guaynabo who led the federation until his untimely death in 1993, outfielder Juan Pachot and pitcher Carlos Velazquez, all of whom were inducted in 1997.
Echevarria, who is now the director of sports and recreation for Guaynabo, was arguably one of the best pitchers in the game in her prime. With more than 40 career wins to her credit, she pitched a shutout in the 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis.
Echevarria, who was inducted into the Puerto Rico sports Hall of Fame two weeks ago, had an 18-year career representing Puerto Rico that culminated with her carrying Puerto Rico's flag into Olympic Stadium at the 1996 Atlanta Games, the year softball made its debut as an Olympic sport. As a team, Echevarria, Vazquez and Segarra helped Puerto Rico win a silver medal at the 1987 Pan Am Games.
Segarra is remembered as one of the sport's best first basemen. She made her debut for Puerto Rico in 1973, and like Echevarria and Vazquez, retired after the 1996 Olympics. Vazquez, meanwhile, had a lifetime batting average of .365.
According to the International Softball Federation, there are 124 affiliated countries in the ISF and millions of participants in the sport worldwide.
Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at email@example.com.
Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.