When ESPN Brasil’s broadcasting of the Brazil vs. Dominican Republic game ended Wednesday night, reporter Vinicius Nicoletti caught up with Alex Garcia courtside and asked him if that was the most important game he had with the Brazilian National Team.
Garcia hesitated for a few milliseconds, but in order to confirm the journalist’s point of view, nodded his head and agreed with the statement.
Garcia has never been the man in the spotlight, especially after his buddies Anderson Varejão, Nenê, and Leandrinho Barbosa went to the NBA, signed multi-million dollar deals, and became world stars. His short stints with the Spurs and the Hornets, consequences of an NBA career filled with injuries didn’t help much, but one can’t disagree that the power guard is one of the most passionate players on the Brazilian national team.
Take Garcia out of this team, and Brazil might lose its poise. Brazil’s head coach was wise in starting him yesterday. Not only because he gave Brazil the energy boost they needed in the fourth quarter, but because he did the the best he could when he guarded the other Garcia: Francisco.
The lanky sharp shooter from the Sacramento Kings played well and hard during the whole game. He worked his back in the first quarters, when Toro signed him to haunt a much smaller Marcelo Huertas. Francisco forced the Brazilian point guard to spin left and right many times before raising his head to find the open big man.
His 3-point shooting was phenomenal as well, and the FIBA line seemed useless.
Unfortunately Francisco didn’t have the same contribution Alex had from his teammates.
When Brazil decided to make a run in the fourth, with the game tied at 66, Francisco followed a hail mary pass that ended in the hands of Marcelinho Machado. He ran after it, and beautifully blocked Machado. However, none of his teammates had the same energy, and the ball ended inside the hoop after a follow through from Brazil.
After the play, one could easily hear Garcia’s disapproval.
We witnessed the two top underrated players in this tournament last night. While many still talk about the absence of Nenê and Trevor Ariza, the stylish Anderson Varejão and Charlie Villanueva, and the young and fast Al Horford and Leandrinho Barbosa, Francisco Garcia and Alex Garcia are the ones that will get their teams to Istanbul.
They might not repeat the same box score performances from yesterday, but they are poised, and that’s what international basketball is all about.