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Brazil can win basketball medal at Rio 2016 Olympic Games, say Nenê and Raulzinho

Brazil can win basketball medal at Rio 2016 Olympic Games, say Nenê and Raulzinho

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 19, 2016

Basketball fans at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will have a special place to share their passion when they are not watching the world's best players in action in Carioca Arena 1 and the Youth Arena. NBA House, a creation of the superstar-packed North American professional league, will host an array of events for basketball lovers in Rio's port area. 

The Brazilian office of the NBA and Cisco presented the project on Tuesday (17 May) with the help of Brazilian players Nenê Hilário and Raulzinho, at the Museum of Tomorrow, in the regenerated port zone. And the main conversation topic was the Olympic Games.

Nenê is confident that Brazil will perform well, despite the complicated group they were drawn in. “We got here early in order to prepare adequately. Obviously we believe in our work, in our group, in our talent, in our quality to win a medal,” said the Washington Wizards centre. He said that Brazil's performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2014 world championships in Spain bolstered their confidence as they showed they were real contenders against rivals like France and Serbia, only narrowly missing out on the podium.

Nenê said he is in good shape going into the Rio 2016 Games (Photo: Inovafoto/Alexandre Loureiro)

Nenê admitted, however, that the absence of Tiago Splitter will be felt. The San Antonio Spurs centre is injured and will not make the Games in August. “But the bright side is that it gives a chance for the others to step up. I stepped up and I have been here (in the Brazil national team) to this day.” The player believes he will perform a lot better at Rio 2016 compared with four years ago when he had to play with a foot injury. “In London I ended up losing any feeling in my foot. Today it is a different Nenê and I haven’t had any problems this season.”

Raulzinho, who plays for the Utah Jazz, shares Nenê’s optimism regarding medals. “It’s a dream which isn’t as distant as we think. We know our ability,” said Raulzinho, who considers the current team better than that of 2012 for having acquired more experience. “We are better prepared to take on players from the United States, from Spain and a large amount of NBA players as we are more used to playing against them. This is a big positive for us.”

This individual development has been beneficial especially for Raulzinho, who debuted in the NBA only last season where he had to deal with stars like Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. “In the NBA it’s even hard making friendships with opponents off the court because it’s very competitive. They all want to get ahead of you”, he says.

 Raulzinho feels more mature after facing stars like Curry and Westbrook (Photo: Inovafoto/Alexandre Loureiro)

A home for basketball fans

NBA House, which will function between 12 and 21 August, is intended to be a second home for basketball fans during the Rio 2016 Games. “The idea is for it to be a meeting place for fans from all over the world during the Games,” said Arnon de Mello, executive director of the NBA in Brazil. The 3,000 square metre space, which will be able to hold 1,500 people at a time, will stage a host of activities such as the showcasing of exclusive NBA content, video-conferences with players, interactions on digital platforms, basketball workshops, autograph sessions, videogame tournaments and music. Fans will also have the chance to see the Larry O’Brien Trophy, handed to the NBA champions, up close.

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