Ex-basketball national team members lent a helping hand in one of the handful test events leading to the 2016 Rio Olympics
With less than 200 days remaining before the cauldron is lit at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the organizing committee from host country Brazil is putting out all the stops to ensure a smooth and successful 2016 Olympic games.
Their morale was certainly lifted when former players from the men’s and women’s national teams lent their support in the staging of one of the test events this past weekend that featured four women’s squads in a pocket tournament that tested the readiness of the Olympic park venues in Rio.
One of which was former two-time Olympic medallist Alessandra Santos de Oliveira – who competed in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics for the women’s national team – joined a group of volunteers to help out in tasks around the Carioca Arena 1, which will play host to the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
The 42-year old former WNBA star could not contain her excitement when her former team takes the floor, but is very much aware of her small contribution that makes a great impact on the country’s hosting of the Rio Olympic games.
“I have learned a great lesson from this experience. I am contributing to basketball in another way. I am still playing, but I know in my mind that soon I will have to do something else,” she added.
In addition to Alessandra, former men’s players Alex Borges “Negretti” da Silva, Rafael Mueller, and Guilheme Bez also contributed their share to the Rio pocket tournament’s success over the weekend.
“Being on the court at an Olympic event is something I never thought I’d do,” said da Silva. “I’m happy because it’s a chance few people get.”
“I’m proud to be the first athlete to mop the Olympic basketball court,” he added.
In the action on the court, the Australian squad – the Opals – took home the gold after besting out home team Brazil, 77-66, in the final game for the gold. Other teams that competed in the three-day affair in Rio were Argentina and Venezuela.
Aside from the basketball tournaments at the Olympics, the venue is also set to host the wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby tournaments of the Paralympic games.