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Louzada ready to give everything in bid to make Brazil's World Cup roster
RIO DE JANEIRO (Brazil) - Didi Louzada expects some intense battles for Brazil at the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer with First Round games against Greece, New Zealand and Montenegro.
Intense is also a way to describe his own fight to make the team that's going to play in China.
Louzada, 19, was an early pick in the second round of the recent NBA Draft, which goes to show how bright of a future he has in the game. The New Orleans Pelicans believe they have a player that can develop into a real warrior. But Brazil have a lot of talented and experienced players that will be vying for spots on their World Cup roster.
"I'd really like to play for the national team this summer, and be a part of the final roster that would help Brazil do well in China," Louzada said to FIBA.basketball. "I know the pool of players is large, so the battle is going to be intense to get a spot in the last 12.
"If I get the opportunity to go to the training camp, I'm going to put 100 percent on the floor to try to make it and wear the national team jersey this summer. Competing in a FIBA World Cup is a one of the goals of my career, and it would be great to do so for the first time this summer."
“I RECEIVED A LOT OF ADVICE FROM THE MOST EXPERIENCED GUYS AND I REALLY ENJOY WEARING THE NATIONAL TEAM JERSEY, SO I REALLY LOVED THE QUALIFIERS. I CAN’T WAIT TO WEAR THE NATIONAL TEAM JERSEY AGAIN.”
It helps Louzada that he played for his country in the Americas Qualifiers, which gave him a chance to show off his skills on the wing. The Cachoeiro de Itapemirim-born player hit 5 of 10 shots for Brazil, who clinched a spot in their final game. While it's his ability to score from deep that usually catches the eye, his good work and overall versatility on defense clearly helped him in the draft. Louzada plays with a lot of energy.
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Taking part in the Americas Qualifiers was a huge opportunity for the player.
"I learned a lot," he said, "a lot of things in only a couple of games with the national team during those qualifiers. It’s a fast way to gain experience, and when you share time on and off the court with veterans and the staff of the senior national team, you know that you are going to be a better player every day.
"I received a lot of advice from the most experienced guys and I really enjoy wearing the national team jersey, so I really loved the qualifiers. I can’t wait to wear the national team jersey again."
The experienced players that Louzada learned from are some of the best in Brazil's history, like Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa. Each has excelled for Brazil over the years and also in the NBA.
Louzada had a strong season playing for Novo Basquete Brasil
"Their impact on the national team is huge," Louzada said. "They're the linchpins of the team and idols of Brazilian basketball. They both competed in every international tournament and played for so long in the NBA, so they're both very experienced players and their value to the national team is unique. We saw it again during the qualifiers; they did show their talent and led the team to getting a ticket for China 2019.
"You learn a lot by playing and sharing time with them. I also love the fact that they still play for the national team despite having played for it for more than 10 years, now, and knowing that they are in their final years of their career. They are perfect examples for Brazilian basketball, guys that you get inspiration from."
If he does end up making the team, Louzada is fully aware of the difficult games in Group F.
"It’s a very competitive group and every team can make it to the next round," he said. "Greece has a lot of experience and many players that compete in very good teams. Montenegro is a good European team and New Zealand is going to play with full energy. Every team that is coming to play in China 2019 is going to play at 100 percent, and has the goal to go to the next round, so it’s going to be a very competitive tournament, probably the most competitive one in the history of the FIBA World Cup."
“I'M STILL YOUNG, AND I WANT TO KEEP LEARNING AND IMPROVING IN ORDER TO BECOME THE BEST PLAYER I CAN BE, AND PLAYING WITH THE NATIONAL TEAM IS ONE WAY TO DO SO.”
Difficult, in truth, doesn't begin to describe the draw for Brazil. If they finish in the top two of Group F, they would advance to Group K in the Second Round to face the top two sides that come out of a Group E that consists of USA, Turkey, Japan and Czech Republic. The two teams that finish in the top two of Group K will advance to the Quarter-Finals.
"I think that Brazil can have a great tournament and surprise a lot of people," Louzada said. "We have a lot of talent and a great mix of veterans and young talent that will help us do great things in China 2019. The team is not going to go to China just to play games and go home after the First Round. We'd like to go far and try to win a lot of games. The goals are to win the first games and go to the next round. From there, everything is possible and we will play our chances at 100 percent."
No matter what Brazil's results end up being, if Louzada gets an invite to training camp, he'll benefit from the experience.
"It's an honor, a great pride for me to represent my country," he said. "I'm still young, and I want to keep learning and improving in order to become the best player I can be, and playing with the national team is one way to do so. I'm excited to be a player of the national team for many, many more years."