Stunning news from Madrid today as Brazil attempted to qualify for the Olympics. In the all-important quarterfinals of the FIBA Olympics Qualifying Tournament, Brazil fell 86-79 to a less-heralded Belarus squad. More surprising is this: According to FIBA.com’s recap of the game, former Storm forward Iziane Castro Marques refused to play in the second half after arguing with Brazil Head Coach Paulo Bassul.
“I don’t have anyway out, Bassul said. “As a leader, I have to make difficult decisions. She didn’t say no just to me, but the group and the country.
“I don’t know about the future.”
Trailing 35-28 at the break, Brazil rallied without Castro Marques, who has been the team’s star player. Brazil led 72-70 in the closing seconds only to allow Belarus to the free-throw line twice, tying the game and sending it to OT. Belarus dominated the extra session, outscoring Brazil 14-7.
Storm center Kelly Santos led the Brazilians with nine rebounds but was unable to find the touch from the field, scoring six points on 2-of-8 shooting. Karla DeCosta stepped up to fill the void left by the absence of Castro Marques, who scored 12 of Brazil’s 28 first-half points. DeCosta finished with a game-high 22 points.
The unusual nature of this tournament is that the four quarterfinals winners (all European sides – Belarus, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Spain) are done. They’ve qualified for the Olympics and go home. The semifinals pit the four losers against each other, with one last Olympic berth on the line. Brazil will face Angola tomorrow, while Cuba and Japan square off in the other semifinal matchup.