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BRA - Marcal and Brazil look to London and beyond
RIO DE JANEIRO (Olympics) - While all eyes are fixed firmly on London, you can probably forgive those donning the gold and green of Brazil if they are tempted to glance a little further beyond this summer - four years beyond in fact.
For their status as hosts of the 2016 Olympic Games has already got an entire nation excited.
Meanwhile the Federation recently made it crystal clear that the pending trip to London is the first important stop-off on what has become a journey geared towards delivering success when the sporting world eventually converges on the all-important destination of Rio de Janeiro.
Anyone wanting confirmation of just how seriously Brazil are taking not only their forthcoming Olympic participation but also the next, then look no further than the recent decision to make a coaching change despite having secured automatic qualification courtesy of their gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship for Women last summer.
Of course the Brazilian national team players are not immune from the Olympic fever which is taking a grip not only in the short term, but also most definitely in the longer term too – something which will inevitably snowball as 2016 moves ever closer.
Palmira Marcal is a player hoping she can continue her recent run of minutes which has seen her participate at the FIBA World Championship two years ago and contribute to the top of the podium finish last summer.
First and foremost, Marcal is eager to ensure she gets an opportunity to step out in the British capital. However, the 27 year old playmaker has admitted to experiencing something of a bitter-sweet sensation since she is fearful that she will not only have a battle on her hands to secure her spot this summer but in particular, remain on the roster for Rio in the wake of some fierce competition.
She said, “For sure, playing at my first Olympic Games would be very special and particularly since it’s been my dream ever since I first got into the Brazilian national team.
“I really hope I can help my team-mates in London.
“I personally think that it would be absolutely amazing if I could also make it until 2016.
“But, I don't think I will since there are a lot of young girls who are coming out to play right now and they are good.
“They just need some game time” added Marcal.
Leading the pack of young guns ready to take hold of the baton is Damiras Dantas who led Brazil to their first podium finish last summer at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Puerto Montt in Chile.
She recorded a stellar double-double in the bronze medal game of 26 points and 13 rebounds which cemented her as the MVP of the tournament while she also played a significant role at senior level last year, helping her country secure gold in Neiva Huila, Columbia.
“Damiras is really a good and talented player” agreed Marcal.
“Of course she will gain more experience through the years which will help the team and there will be other young girls that will appear in the future alongside her.
“She just needs to keep focused on what she wants and desires in life and then she will be more even more successful than she already is.”
While WNBA duo Erika De Souza and Iziane Castro Marques are inevitably the focus of attention for opposing teams, the likes of Marcal could play a pivotal supporting role with the point guard confident the other players on the roster will be able to exploit any freedom offered by teams overplaying the star pairing.
“I think both Erika and Iziane are great and when people think about Brazil now, its normal to think about both of them” explained Marcal.
“We also know the other teams we will face may also focus more on them but this will mean there is an open window for the other girls to shine on the court.
“We know we have many more players who are very important for the team and they will play their own game.
“Nothing is better than a team that plays together and helps each other.”
This is a sentiment which will no doubt be music to the ears of new play-caller Luiz Cláudio Tarallo who has succeeded Enio Vecchi, a move which left many people surprised – including Marcal.
She said, “It was for sure a surprise since Enio and his assistant coach Ubiratan did a good job during the qualification.
“Almost one month later and everyone couldn't stop talking about it.
“Luiz Cláudio Tarallo is a very good coach. While I haven’t had a chance to work with him yet, I know he has done a great job with the younger girls.”
For now though, Marcal is trying hard not to think about the longer term project and the 2016 fever which will continue to grip her homeland. She has a far more important focus and that is simply fighting to secure for her place on the final roster for London.