BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Former UAB women’s basketball standout Deanna Kuzmanic is headed to Tokyo in July after qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics with the Puerto Rican national team Sunday evening.
“It is such an honor and a blessing to represent Puerto Rico on the national team,” said Kuzmanic. “The island has been through so much, most recently the recurring earthquakes that caused severe damage throughout Puerto Rico. This Olympic ticket means much more than basketball, it represents the reliance and fight of Puerto Rico. We are putting Puerto Rico on the map and showing the world the heart of the island.”
Kuzmanic appeared in all three games of the qualifying tournament in Bourges, France where the Puerto Rican squad went 1-2 with a 91-89 overtime win over Brazil in the opening game of the tournament. She tallied 17 minutes of action over the three games collecting three boards.
Puerto Rico punched its ticket to Tokyo after Brazil fell to Australia on the final day of competition. It is the first time the Puerto Rican women’s national team has ever qualified for the Olympics.
Back in August Kuzmanic won a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru with Puerto Rico.
Kuzmanic was a four-year starter at UAB where she earned All-Conference USA honors three times in her career. The Mount Prospect, Ill. native ranks 12th in UAB history in scoring and is top 10 in 12 different categories in UAB history including first in games played (128) and minutes played (4,310) in a career. She was named a top 30 finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award back in October where she was the only Division I college basketball player represented amongst the 30 finalists.
“We are so thrilled for Deanna and the opportunity she has to compete on the world stage in the Tokyo Olympic Games,” said UAB women’s basketball head coach Randy Norton. “She has always pursued excellence on and off the court and is a tremendous role model for current UAB athletes and everyone she is around. It is great to see her outstanding work ethic and huge heart pay off for her.”
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are set to begin on July 24 and end on Aug. 9. The women’s basketball preliminary round will start on July 27 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama City, Japan with a bracket to be determined at a later date.