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Basketball - 25. June 2016.

Dantas: "I believe we can win a medal"

Dantas: "I believe we can win a medal"

12 Damiris DANTAS (Brazil)
Damiris Dantas (BRA) - Brazil v Czech Republic, 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, Ankara (Turkey), Group Phase, 27 September 2014

SAO PAULO (Rio 2016 Olympic Games) - Damiris Dantas was just 19 years of age when she made her Olympic debut at the London 2012 Games. Now she epitomises Brazil's hope of reaching the podium in Rio.

Although Brazil won last month's South American Women's Championship without the 1.92m forward-center, head coach Carlos Barbosa added Dantas for the final phase of preparations.

Barbosa is even trying out Dantas at small forward as a way of bolstering his team's chances against taller, faster and more experienced opponents.  

I am looking to play well and win a medal, which would be the biggest challenge of my basketball career. I know my capabilities to the help the team in succeeding. I am facing this challenge with joy and focus. - Dantas

 

The former Atlanta Dream star accepts the challenges as part of the plan of seeing Brazil succeeding in Rio. She chose to sit out 2016 WNBA to prepare for Brazil’s national team.  

"I love being challenged," Dantas told the Brazil Basketball Confederation's website. 

"I am looking to play well and win a medal, which would be the biggest challenge of my basketball career. I know my capabilities to the help the team in succeeding. I am facing this challenge with joy and focus."

Last month, Brazil proved too strong for their South Americans rivals, in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, winning their 14th title in a row thanks to six wins in as many games.

However, the Rio Olympics seem quite a challenge for Dantas and Co.

For Brazil, there will be nothing better in order to prepare them than to travel to France and take on Les Bleues in a three-game warm-up series in early July. After all, the Summer Games' hosts will face three European teams in Rio - BelarusTurkey and France - in Group A in the Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament. They will complete their Group Phase going up against Australia and Japan.

"It will be good for us," Dantas said. "This is a chance of improving aspects of our game plan. France is a good and strong team."

It's been 16 years since Brazil last claimed a podium finish at the Olympics.  

Asked to describe the team's atmosphere as well as competitiveness ahead of the Rio Games, Dantas said: "It couldn't be any better. Playing in the Olympics represents the pinnacle of a player's career, especially when it happens in your own country."

“We are all highly focused and determined. Our group of players is highly motivated, and we can feel the joy during the practice sessions. Even though some are fighting for the same spot in the final squad, they are all helping one another for the benefit of the game. - Dantas

As for Brazil's realistic chances in Rio, the 23-year-old pointed out that it's always good to play at home, but she also admitted the challenge and underlined the need of extra motivation. 

"I believe our fans will be our 13th player. I feel more mature and confident. I have renewed dreams," she said. "Some may think this is an improbable dream but I believe we can win a medal. My team believes in it and our coaching staff believes we can do.

"We have a strong team, which includes players with international experience. We don’t have newcomers. Everyone is experienced, and all know of their potential, and I am sure they will fight for the medal objective. Apart from the USA, who are too strong, other teams are at the same level. We know it will be tough, but we are going to do everything in our power to reach our dream."

Brazil will open their Rio Olympics quest facing Australia on 6 August. 

FIBA

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