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Brazil's objective: dreaming big with their basketball

RIO DE JANEIRO (Brazil) – The women’s national team has a new objective in mind and is preparing to face it the best way they can with a great performance in their training routine in Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2019 – the continental competition that’ll take place from September 22 to 29 at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Brazil conquered the gold medal in women's basketball at the Pan American Games in Lima 2019 by defeating the United States in the Final, 79-73. The squad reached the highest step on the Pan American podium for the first time in their history and 28 years after they did so in the Havana Games in Cuba, in 1991, with the most popular generation of players around the world – Hortência, Paula, Janeth, and company.

These are the fruits of the labor of the Brazilian Basketball Confederation (CBB, for its Portuguese acronym), which is working on developing basketball in its formative stages. Its growth pursues to teach the game in every corner of the South American nation from very young ages and throughout the year, filling its calendar with activities, different competitions and the 3x3 modality, which is growing exponentially. With the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo ahead, the idea is to strengthen the national youth teams and complete the task in the senior teams where the wins are increasingly more significant.

It's not by chance that also in the past U21 Men’s South American Championship in Tunja, Colombia, the Brazilian team took the title, overcoming Argentina, a national team with an outstanding impact in recent years.

Initially, the work with women's basketball started with a series of evaluations of the athletes by the multidisciplinary team of the Technical Staff of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) in Rio de Janeiro. After, the training began in the court, focusing on technical and tactical aspects, as well as in physical training. “The first week was focused on the physical training and the concepts of the game, seeking a base to develop everything we've planned from a technical and tactical standpoint. During the second week we were more focused on the physical maintenance and the tactical structure of the team,” explained Coach José Neto.

“This is the continuation of the work that began in the 2019 Pan American Games. We must now focus on the next challenge, the AmeriCup, to continue in this process of evolving Brazilian female basketball, which is once again begin acknowledged after 28 years,” added the coach to FIBA.basketball.

The 18 athletes that were called in the beginning were evaluated by the multidisciplinary team of the Brazilian team at the end of August. “Medical evaluations were fundamental to determine the current state of our team and the planning strategies for the next competitions. Many of the group's athletes, aside from the Pan American Games, played in the final phase of the national tournament. Because of this, it was essential to individualize the training sessions and the measures to prevent injuries,” commented Dr. Paulo Roberto Szeles, who works with the Technical Staff.

The players are physically growing, and this helps in all aspects of the preparation. The gold in the Pan American Games, according to their trainer, Diego Falcão, was of the utmost importance: “The group is gradually evolving, not just physically, but with a training mentality. I believe that after these Pan American Games, the players have changed their training culture because a lot of them take better care of themselves. To achieve what we want, they must improve physically, including for José Neto's needs in the court. They have evolved. Women's basketball, in general, has been helping us a lot, since I talked to all trainers to work together, seeking a methodological direction. All of them were very open in our talks and want to help female basketball to keep evolving.”

“This has been a phase of a lot of learning and hard work, with a lot of intensity, both tactical and physical. I'm very happy to be a part of such a committed group, from the Committee to the athletes,” added center Gabriela Guimarães.

“There’s an evolution underway. The physical growth of the players is noticeable; they went back to their respective clubs, they trained hard, they changed their focus and achieved good results. I expect that in the AmeriCup we showcase this evolution. The alliance between the COBA and the CBB allowed us to do all physical tests, so now we have a perfect direction of everything each player can make and how they can improve,” Falcão added.

The preparation phase for the national team in Rio de Janeiro will take place on Saturday, September 15 and on Sunday, September 15 with a defined team, the Brazilian delegation will travel to San Juan.

Brazil will debut on September 22 against Colombia in Group B. The Brazilians will then face Argentina, Paraguay and the United States to conclude the group phase. Group A features the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

The two best teams of each group will move on to the semifinals on September 28. The AmeriCup Final will be held on September 29. The eight best results will secure a place in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in November.

After almost two decades working for the national team, Alex García, Anderson Varejão, and Leandrinho Barbosa were able to play in their fifth FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China, going in the Brazilian basketball history books. A past, a present and a bright future. There's no doubt that many of these young men and women follow in their footsteps and, why stop dreaming?