After Brazil suffered a narrow two-point defeat at the hands of Jamaica to end their FIBA Americas Championship run in the first round, much criticism has been directed at several Brazilian players, and especially a few that did not play in the tournament for their home country.
Notably absent was San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter, who has been a main centerpiece for Brazil for several years.
Splitter apparently had plenty to say not in only in response to critics, but also in appreciation of his fellow countrymen on Twitter (via translation).
Wanted to send a big hug to all fellow Brazilian teammates! I know you gave everything on the court! You are very great players with a lot of experience in major championships on the planet. For one reason or another it did not work out.
Some spoke that it was the fault of the players who were not with the team. With respect to myself, it's really hard to understand after 13 years representing my country!
I remember when I was not at my best and fully committed, I was criticized for playing below what I could.
I remember when my son was born I went straight to training and spent the first 2 months away from family…I remember when my sister was living the last days of her life, there I was representing my country!
We always won together and lost together mostly. There were many victories and many painful defeats. Defeat is where we know best and never any of us pointed the finger at each other, instead we supported each other more. I know exactly how they are feeling my fellow selection after spending more than 50 days away from the family, in regime concentration training. You will always have my support and solidarity that I always have of all of them.
In a few months we will all be together again. Now is the time to reflect and think about a better future. My selection was always based on respect, honesty, commitment and courage. Only the total lack of knowledge could generate these statements displaced from reality.
Minus Splitter, Brazil, who has always been considered a medal contender in international competition, went 0-4. They still had mainstays Marcelinho Huertas, Alex Garcia and Guilherme Giovannoni but their NBA representation of Splitter, Nene, Leandro Barbosa and Anderson Varejao were absent from the tournament in Caracas.
While the Brazilians were dealt a tough hand without their top talent, other players, like Huertas that were expected to step up, didn’t do enough to help Brazil secure a spot in the second round via their loser goes home battle with Jamaica.
As unfair as any criticism may be, as is always the case, every team needs their best players in order to give themselves the best opportunity. However, considering he followed a grueling 82-game season with a deep playoff run through seven games of the NBA Finals, no Spurs fan will blame Splitter for sitting out the FIBA Americas Championship. But he may just be motivated enough to assure he’s there and makes a difference the next time around. Let’s hope he saves some of that for the NBA season as well.