''My record will fall sooner or later'' - Brazil and World Cup legend Schmidt
NANJING (China) - One of the all-time greats, Brazilian legend Oscar Schmidt insists he feels comfortable with his status as the all-time leading FIBA Basketball World Cup scorer coming to an end if and when it does comes to an end.
The 61-year-old set a record for most points scored in the history of the competition in the 1990 edition of the tournament in Argentina when he averaged 34.6 points per game while helping Brazil to a Fifth-Place finish.
I HONESTLY WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY PLAYERS REFUSE TO PLAY FOR THEIR NATIONAL TEAM. I HAVE DECLINED AN OFFER TO PLAY IN THE NBA BECAUSE OF MY NATIONAL TEAM.
Ironically it was an Argentine who recently closed the gap to Schmidt's record. By scoring his 595th point against Nigeria, 39-year-old Luis Scola last week leapfrogged Australia's Andrew Gaze (594 points) to become the second leading scorer of all time in the history of the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Schmidt, fondly known as 'Mão Santa' (Holy Hand in English), scored 906 points in four FIBA Basketball World Cup events.
Scola admitted that Schmidt's record belongs to another level that he won't be able to reach. "It's impossible," the 2.03m (6ft 8in) forward said. "A small part of me - even if I had the chance to take number one from Oscar - a part of me doesn't want to do it. I just want him up there, he's my big hero. A small part of me would be like, ah, nah, let's just let him be."
Gaze (left) and Oscar in Shenzhen
Talking to FIBA.basketball, Schmidt was all praises for Scola.
"I appreciate his kind words. Scola is a wonderful human being, I wish my son would become as wonderful as him. Scola is a talented player, and deserves everybody’s respect. He is one of the best players in the world," Schmidt offered.
Praises aside, Schmidt went on saying that "records are set to be broken" and his historical mark will one day be broken. "That’s for sure, but I am not sure how long it will take to be broken, but it will happen."
The FIBA Hall of Fame Schmidt, an avid advocate of national team dedication and activities, is in China watching his native Brazil making strides and attempting to make history to return their glory days.
Brazil reached the Second Round of the tournament after beating New Zealand, Greece and Montenegro in Group F in Nanjing.
Oscar Schmidt watched Brazil's three Group F games in Nanjing
The result, Schmidt believes, indicates that good things are to come.
"After the win against Greece I have no more doubts about the strength of this Brazilian team. I truly believe that this team can reach the top-four in this World Cup. They have enough quality to make it happen, it’s up to them to deliver us some success."
Following a 87-67 defeat to the Czech Republic on Saturday, Brazil face a tough mission of beating the three-time defending champions USA on Monday in Shenzhen.
"The USA team is beatable," Schmidt said. "They almost lost to Turkey, and I was rooting for Turkey. Everybody roots against the better team. Theoretically the USA is the best team in this World Cup, but there are good teams in this tournament capable of beating them.
"They lose to Argentina in the Qualifiers, but teams like Canada can also be better than the Americans."
Oscar Schmidt and USA's Charles Barkley at 1996 Olympics
Looking through his four FIBA Basketball World Cup participations and five Olympic Games participation, Schmidt can't relate to players, who elect not to play for their countries.
"I honestly will never understand why a player refuses to play for their national team. I have declined an offer to play in the NBA because of my national team. The NBA is a clubs’ competition. The Brazilian national is unique. You can’t compare it with anything else."
Last week, Schmidt witnessed Bogdna Tanjevic being inducted to the FIBA Hall of Fame. For the Brazilian legend it was a "special moment, especially because Tanjevic changed my life. He saw me play once, and once he got in Italy he sent emissaries to sign me."