The night promises to be magical in Belém, regardless of the result at the end. This Thursday (8), the Brazilian women’s basketball team begins the search for a place in the Paris Olympic Games by playing host to the Pre-Olympic Tournament, in the capital of Pará, against Australia, starting at 8 pm (clock time). Brasilia). Tickets for the match are sold out and more than 11 thousand people are expected at the Mangueirinho gym.
“The fans, for me, are our sixth player. I am very excited about this opportunity. The opponents must now have a little fear and respect and know that they are inside our house”, said pivot Érika at a press conference after the last training session before the debut.
During a brief period of four days in the middle of Carnival in Pará, the group will put almost five years of work into play. When he took charge of the national team, in June 2019, coach José Neto was seduced by the proposal to lead a long-term project whose main objective was to reach the Olympic place in Paris. At the time, the classification for the previous Olympics, in Tokyo, had not yet been defined, and, when the place for Japan did not come, there were no reevaluations or recalculated routes. He continued ahead of the team, waiting for the moment that was about to happen.
“I think today we are not where I expected us to be when I took over. We are much better. Thanks to the commitment of the players, who are capable and have increased the number of options I have. We are ready. Let’s see if our best will be enough to get the job.”declared Neto.
Gradually, Brazil built a consistent group. Today, everything seems to converge so that the best version of him can be seen precisely at the most important time. Even without having all the main pieces available at all times, the team won the South American, Copa América and Pan-American Games titles. Now the Pre-Olympics arrive with the full squad, with players playing both on national and foreign soil, with experienced names like Érika (41 years old) and Damiris (31) and young people with projection, trained in North American college basketball, like Stephanie (23 years old) and Kamilla (22).
Furthermore, in a format that only offers one chance of qualifying for the Olympics, the team will still have the advantage of playing at home, a rare opportunity. In many cases, it is necessary to go back to the Rio Games, in 2016, to find the last time they performed in Brazil in the face of so much expectation. But the feeling is that emotional charge and trust are companions of reason.
“You can be sure that you will see Brazil fighting. We are preparing a lot, studying Australia a lot. Even from afar, our coaching staff sends us material about their players. Let’s do our best. It won’t even be 100%, but rather 200%”revealed Damiris.
The journey to Paris, however, does not stop at the first game. Brazil still faces two European teams: Serbia, on Saturday, and Germany, on Sunday. Both games will also be at 8pm.
For José Neto, the tournament is not the end point of the project he took on in 2019. “Our decision is not just to classify. You have to fight for an Olympic medal. But to do so, this is the first step. Maybe it’s the most difficult. If we can’t, I’m responsible. If it works, they deserve it.”explained the technician.
Source: Agência Brasil
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