One current and two former BYU Cougars are on the list of 22 players who will battle for 12 spots on Brazil's Senior Men's National team that will compete in the Tournament of the Americas later this summer. Additionally, a player from BYU-Hawaii will be among the players competing in the "A" team training camp starting in late July.
BYU's Jonathan Tavernari is one of eight players picked from Brazil's "B" team roster currently competing in Portugal, and he'll be joined by ex-Cougars Rafael Araujo and Luiz Lemes when the 22-player group congregates July 26th in Sao Paulo. Lemes (currently playing professionally in Brazil) is one of two players invited to "round out" the roster, but their special status as "invited" players denotes them as players unlikely to make the final 12-man roster. BYU-Hawaii's Lucas Cipolini Alves is the fourth player with BYU ties.
The "A" team will compete in two exhibition tournaments to be contested prior to the Tournament of the Americas--one in Rio de Janeiro in early August and another in Puerto Rico ten days later. By the time the Tournament of the Americas opens in San Juan on August 26th, ten players will have been cut and Brazil's final 12-man roster will be set.
So, what are JT's chances of making the final "A" team for a squad featuring NBA stars Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa and San Antonio Spurs draftee Tiago Splitter?
Well, the competition will be tough. Of the 22 players on the provisional "A" team list, only four are listed as shooting guards (JT's position with Brazil), but Barbosa is clearly the starter at that position, with Tavernari the youngest of the other three. At 21 years of age, his competition for the backup spot will come from 29-year old Diego Pinheiro and 29-year old national team veteran and former Spur and New Orleans Hornet Alex Garcia, with Garcia all but assured of making the final cut.
It bears noting that Tavernari is one of ten players on the current 22-man list who also played for Brazil at last summer's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Greece, so he won't be intimidated by the players with whom he's competing (although Varejao and Barbosa were not on the team that played in Greece). Former Gonzaga star JP Batista was also one of JT's teammates on last summer's team, and is now likely targeted for the final "A" team roster.
Tavernari and the "B" team open tournament play in the Jogos da Lusofonia tomorrow afternoon in Almada, Portugal. See my most recent blog entries for details on his performance in last week's tournament, also held in Almada.
Not a good day for the ex-Cougars at the NBA Summer League today in Vegas. Lee Cummard did not play in the Phoenix Suns win over Dallas, and Trent Plaisted was a non-factor in the Detroit Pistons blowout loss to Golden State. According to the boxscore, Plaisted started and played the opening 5:21, but if the box is accurate, he went to the bench with two quick fouls and never saw the floor again. The box has him with four points (1/2 fg, 2/2 ft), and no other stats, other than the fouls. Clearly, Plaisted is battling the whistle, with eight fouls in 37+ minutes of play, through three games.