Brazil Olympic Basketball Team: 2012 Roster Analysis and Predictions

Adam FriedgoodContributor IIIMay 10, 2012

Brazil Olympic Basketball Team: 2012 Roster Analysis and Predictions

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    The Brazil National basketball team will be participating in the Olympics for the first time since 1996.

    How will they fair?

    You know they will be hungry for a medal since no one on the current roster has ever fought for an Olympic medal before, even though many of the players have been with the squad for double-digit years. 

    Brazil definitely has a great chance of making it to the final game since they have four current NBA players to go along with a variety of international veterans.    

    Here is my analysis and prediction for how they will do during the 2012 London Olympics.  

Roster Rundown

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    The official roster for the Brazil National Team according to the FIBA website is:

    —Vitor Alves Benite (SG, 6'3", Limeira, Brazil)

    —Leandro Barbosa (G, 6'3", Indiana Pacers, U.S.A.)

    —Nezinho dos Santos (PG, 6'1", UniCEUB/BRB, Brazil)

    —Alex Garcia (SG, 6'2", UniCEUB/BRB, Brazil)

    —Guilherme Giovannoni (SF, 6'8", UniCEUB/BRB, Brazil)

    —Rafael Hettsheimer (PF, 6'10", CAI Zaragoza, Spain)

    —Nene (C, 6'11", Washington Wizards, U.S.A.)

    —Marcelo Huertas (PG, 6'3", Regal FC Barcelona, Spain)

    —Augusto Lima (PF, 6'9", Unicaja Malaga, Spain)

    —Rafael Luz (G, 6'2", Lecetum Alicante, Spain)

    —Marcelo Machado (G, 6'7", Flamengo, Brazil)

    —Raul Neto (PG, 6'1", Minas Tenis Clube, Brazil)

    —Tiago Splitter (F, 6'10", San Antonio Spurs, U.S.A.)

    —Caio Torres (C, 6'11", Flamengo, Brazil)

    —Anderson Varejao (C, 6'11", Cleveland Cavaliers, U.S.A.)

    —Marcus Vieira (PF, 6'9", Pinheiros, Brazil)

The Stars

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    This Brazil team has four current NBA players on their roster:

    —Leandro Barbosa: He is the only guard on the roster with NBA talent. Barbosa will most likely be matched up with the opposing team's best perimeter scorer every game. 

    —Nene: Should be the starting center on this team. He didn't participate in the qualifying, so the team's interior offense will definitely improve.  

    —Anderson Varejao: Another starter who didn't play for Brazil during the qualifying. He is listed on the official roster as center, but he should start at power forward next to Nene.   

    —Tiago Splitter: Started during the qualifying, but will probably come off the bench during the Olympics. Brazil is stacked with talented big men.   

Guards

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    Projected Starters: Marcelo Huertas, Leandro Barbosa

    Projected Reserves: Alex Garcia, Marcelo Machado

     

    Quick Hits

    —Marcel Huertas has been starting at point guard for this team since 2006, when he averaged 16.8 points and 4 assists per game during the South American Championships. During the last three tournaments with Brazil, dating back to 2010, Huertas has averaged double figures and over four assists each time.  

    —Leandro Barbosa has been putting up huge scoring numbers for Brazil recently. Going back to 2007, he has averaged 20 points per game in tournaments with Brazil. He hasn't played with the team since 2010 though, so it will be interesting to see if they adjust their offensive system to play to Barbosa's strengths.   

    —Alex Garcia is one of the veterans on the squad and will be participating in his thirteenth event with team Brazil at the Olympics. He has been a very solid role player during his time with the team, averaging between 6.7 and 10 points per game off the bench in every tournament, but his first one back in 2002. 

    —Marcelo Machado was at one point the star of this team, averaging 18.7 points per game from 2002-2005. Since, his role has diminished but not completely. He doesn't hit the totals he once did, but Machado still scores over eight points per game in just under 20 minutes per game.     

     

    By the Numbers

    15.3—Leandro Barbosa's career scoring average in his nine tournaments with Brazil dating back to 2002. 

Forwards

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    Projected Starters: Guilherme Giovannoni, Anderson Varejao

    Projected Reserves: Marcus Vieira, Rafael Hettsheimer

     

    Quick Hits

    —Guilherme Giovannoni was second on the team in scoring during his last tournament with the team, the 2011 FIBA America Championships. His production significantly dropped off for many years after being the team's leading scorer back in 2003, but he has recently regained his confidence and has averaged double figures again during the last two tournaments. His three-point shooting is going to need to be on if Brazil wants to defeat the tougher teams in the tournament.    

    —Like Barbosa, Anderson Varejao is another starter who hasn't played with the team since the FIBA World Championships in 2010. He has always put up really good rebounding numbers, but Varejao is counted on to score much more with team Brazil than he has been with the Cavs in the NBA. If this team wants to advance far and earn a medal, Varejao is going to need to bring that defensive energy that we see him play with on a nightly basis in Cleveland.  

    —Marcus Vieira is fairly new to the squad, making his first appearance with the team in 2007. He quickly earned a spot in the rotation though, averaged 25.3 minutes per game during the 2011 FIBA America Championships and scoring over 10 points per game.   

    —After scoring only four points in four games with Brazil back in 2005, Rafael Hettsheimer didn't play with the team until last year. He has drastically improved since his first attempt with the team, averaging just under 9 points per game with the team now. 

     

    By the Numbers

    80—Number of games Guilherme Giovannoni has played in with the Brazil national team.

Center

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    Projected Starters: Nene 

    Projected Reserves: Tiago Splitter

     

    Quick Hits

    —Nene hasn't participated with team Brazil since 2007, but since his name is on the official roster, I must assume he will be the starting center. If he is in fact playing, he and Varejao form a very solid rebounding tandem. Brazil should use their size to their advantage, since there are only three other teams participating in the Olympics that have at least two NBA big men.  

    —If Nene doesn't play, Tiago Splitter will be the team's staring center. Either way Splitter will have a significant role during the Olympics, like he has in every other tournament for Brazil over the past 10 years. Even though he is only 27 years old now, Splitter has been starting with the team since 2003. He will also need to be a dominant rebounder and defender for Brazil this tournament.  

     

    By the Numbers

    17—Age of Tiago Splitter when he participated in his first tournament with Brazil at the 2002 World Championships.

Best Case Scenario

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    Brazil was very fortunate that they don't need to play the U.S.A. in the preliminary round. They defeat every team in their group with ease except Spain, who they play an extremely close game with. Brazil's bigs prevail over Spain's in the end though, and they earn the narrow victory and a 5-0 record in group play.

    After defeating their first round opponent, Brazil meets Argentina, the last team to defeat them, in the Semifinals. The additions of Barbosa, Nene and Varejao give Brazil the edge this time and they defeat Argentina to advance to the Finals against team U.S.A.

    The Brazilians will put up a really tough fight, but they just aren't athletic enough to match the Americans. It won't be the blowout many people expect it to be, but Brazil falls short to the U.S.A. and takes home the silver medal.   

Worst Case Scenario

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    Brazil is able to beat China and a shorthanded Australia during the preliminary round, but fall to every other team in the group by a wide margin. Even so, they squeak into the next round as the fourth and final team from Group B.

    This is where the road ends though for the Brazilians because that means a matchup with team U.S.A. in the Quarterfinals. The Americans play an up-tempo game that Brazil just can't keep up with. They lose by over 30 points and fail to earn an Olympic medal once again. 

Prediction

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    Brazil will finish...

    Fourth

     

    Why Fourth?

    As I stated before, Brazil was very fortunate to avoid team U.S.A. in the preliminary round. There is still one more team that will join Group B, like Lithuania or Greece, but even so that still only makes three quality teams in this group.

    Brazil should finish, at worst, third during the preliminary round, but I believe they have too many good bigs and will earn second. 

    Earning second will still most likely earn Brazil a tough matchup in the first round on the knockout stage though. Assuming team U.S.A. takes first place in Group A, Brazil will most likely have to matchup with with either France or Argentina.

    During a prediction I released when the groups were announced, I said Argentina will come in third and face Brazil, so I will stick with that. This is really a very even matchup, but Brazil should prevail by a narrow margin.

    This will most likely set up a matchup with team U.S.A. in the semifinals. This team is just too athletic for the Brazilians to matchup with. Whichever American guard Barbosa doesn't matchup with should be able to dominate. Also, the wing men for the U.S.A. are just too quick and powerful for any of the Brazilian small forwards to guard. 

    A loss for Brazil leads them to their final game of the 2012 Olympics, the bronze medal game. Here, they will also most likely be facing off against a team who is ranked higher than them.

    In my previous prediction, France is the team Brazil will face in this game. This game will come down to how well Barbosa can guard Tony Parker. These two players are very familiar with each other from their many playoff meetings when Barbosa was on the Suns and Parker was on the Spurs.

    Like those series, Parker will prevail, and Brazil will fall just short of earning their first medal since 1964.  

The Facts

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    Coach: Ruben Magnano

    How They Qualified for the Olympics: Lost in the Finals of the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship.

    Best Olympic Finish: Bronze (1948, 1960, 1964)

    FIBA World Rank: Thirteen

    Leading Scorer In Qualifying: Marcelo Huertas

    Leading Rebounder in Qualifying: Tiago Splitter

    Most Minutes in Qualifying: Marcelo Huertas

    Got Highlights? Of course. Here are highlights from the Finals of the 2011 FIBA America Championships versus Argentina. Brazil lost this game but still earned a spot in the Olympics.