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Brazil's Barbosa: ''The national team has always been my priority''
LAVAL (FIBA Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers 2019) - Leandro Barbosa will once again wear the Brazilian National Team jersey after his absence from the matches against Venezuela and Colombia at the FIBA Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers 2019. This time in Group F, Brazil lead with 11 points and has a 5-1 record, placing them at the top with Venezuela and Canada.
Barbosa, 35, spent 10 months without playing before being able to return to his team, Franca Basquetebol Clube in Brazil. Completely recovered from the injuries he sustained last year which left him out of the courts, the guard seemed confident before the next duels against Canada, which begin this Thursday as visiting team in Laval; and then against the Virgin Islands on next Sunday —this time as locals— at Goiania.
Barbosa has been in the NBA for 14 years and has a championship title under his belt with the Warriors, and has also played with Toronto, Indiana, Boston and Phoenix. He was granted the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2007.
“If I can continue to play and the coach in this instance - Aleksandar Petrović - gives me the opportunity, I will always be present and available for the Brazil National Team. I’m very well physically and I like to be in shape. The Brazilian National Team has always been and will be my priority. I like to represent the National Team; for myself and for my family,” Leandrinho commented.
“I'm a bit out of tune, but I'm training to give a hundred percent. I'm thankful for the technical team that has helped me with their training to be in shape these past months,” said the Sao Paulo native.
Canada will play as local favorites and now have 6 NBA players, what can you say about this?
It's obvious. They have several NBA players, something to their favor that I consider is very positive and many other countries have as well. But the game is inside the court and we have everything to play as equals. We know this will be a game that will be a bit more difficult than the one against Venezuela, which we unfortunately lost and was our only defeat in the Qualifiers up to know. However, I believe that Huertas, Varejão and myself, who have the most experience, know what we need to do to be able to win.
Do you believe that Brazil may defeat Canada despite the losses the team faces for this window: Rafael Luz, Scott Machado, Cristiano Felício, Raulzinho, Rafael Hettsheimeir?
Of course, we will be missing these players. They're important and were with us and played an Olympics and a World Cup. Nonetheless, our group today is this one, with several young talents that are very capable of conquering two good results.
What does it mean for you to play in the Brazil National Team with Varejão and Huertas, two veteran players like you?
We know each other well, we're working hard, and we must keep playing like we usually do, and we know how to do it. We must also press hard. We're the most experienced in the team, we know what we need to do to win.
Leandrinho is the second-best scorer of his team, with a 12.0 average per game, behind Varejão (12.5); and second in assists (3.0), a step below his team mate Marcelinho Huertas.