MADRID (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women) – Brazil veteran Iziane vowed on Sunday not to play for her country again as long as Paulo Bassul is the coach of the national team.
An Olympian in 2004 and the face of the women’s game in the country, Iziane's disagreement with Bassul late in the first half led to the small forward sitting on the bench for the third and fourth quarters of Brazil’s defeat to Belarus in Friday’s quarter-final.
Iziane said that her coach had wanted her to go into the game in overtime, but she refused.
Bassul then announced after the game that the 26-year-old forward was “out of the national team” and on her way back to America where she plays for Atlanta in the WNBA.
Bassul said she had not only let him down, but the players and all of Brazil.
“I’m not coming back,” Iziane said at a press conference on Sunday, saying she didn’t want to play for Bassul anymore.
“This is my last game with Brazil as long as Paulo Bassul is the head coach.”
Iziane had spoken of her happiness earlier in the week that Bassul had replaced long-time coach Antonio Barbosa at the helm. Bassul had been an assistant on the last two Olympic teams.
She offered a different viewpoint after Friday’s events.
“The most important thing in life is to be happy when I’m playing and training, to feel good and I’m not feeling like that right now,” she said.
Iziane admits that she did not handle the situation well on Friday night, yet stopped short of offering an apology to Bassul.
“I’m ready for the criticism (in Brazil) because I’ve had it for my whole life,” she said.
“I’m used to it. I’m sorry for what I did. I know what I did was a mistake – but I didn’t feel mentally ready to go back into the game.
“I was on the bench for 20 minutes. I’m the person who should be on the court for most of the game. In overtime, I was cold, not prepared. I felt the players on the court should decide the game.
“I apologized to Claudinha because she’s the captain. ”
Brazil beat Angola with Iziane to reach Sunday's last game at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women. If they win without Iziane on Sunday against Cuba, the country will capture the last spot on offer for the Beijing Games.
photo Getty Images