22 June, 2016
02 July
Vania Paulette (BRA), 6 Izabela Leite (BRA)
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Lift off for Brazil’s big hope

ZARAGOZA (2016 FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship) - There's a real weight of expectation on Izabela Nicoletti and not just at the 2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship.

The do-it-all guard was thrust into the limelight last year when her performances at the FIBA Americas U16 Women's Championship resulted in a sensational promotion to the senior team for the FIBA Americas Women's Championship in Edmonton.

Now she is in the centre of the women's basketball radar and already labelled as one of the hottest teenage prospects around. She is certainly one of the long-term hopes for women’s basketball in her homeland.

Hopes were high she would lead Brazil to an opening day victory in Zaragoza, so it came as a considerable shock when she went a painful and eye-watering 2 of 22 from the floor, as her team crashed and burned against Mali.

There was always going to be a reaction from a player with such natural talent and desire. It was Portugal who felt the full force of her response as she harvested a brilliant and game-winning 24 points and 14 rebounds.

"We are back," declared a proud and relieved Nicoletti after the final buzzer, as she quickly re-assessed Brazilian ambitions. "We lost against Mali, but now we are playing hard again and we have our eyes on first place in the group." 

"I played very badly in the first game, but this time it was different. It has been interesting playing against the different styles such as the athleticism of Mali and the great defence of Portugal. We changed our own defence and offence for this second game as we were surprised by Mali. But even with some small changes, we always try to play the Brazilian way. It has been very challenging so far and I am enjoying it," she added.

The scoring machine also gained pleasure and pride in another matter too – namely hearing about her compatriot and the legendary Janeth Arcain being announced as the ‘Mayor’ of the Olympic Village at Rio 2016.

"It is an honour for her as she is Brazilian and also for us, because she is one of our idols," smiled Nicoletti, who is aware that she has quite some distance to go if she wants to accomplish just a fraction of the things the Arcain managed during her stellar career.