Saturday, June 14, 2008
If you're unaware of where Iziane Castro Marques is, she was in Madrid, playing in the final qualifying round for women's basketball in the 2008 Olympic Games as a member of the Brazilian national team.
Twelve teams came to Madrid, but only five teams would get berths at the Olympics. (The U. S. has already earned its berth.) The twelve teams played series of round-robin games to go down to eight remaining teams fighting for the five spots.
With the quarterfinals set up, all eight remaining teams would find the initial quarterfinal game a critical one for their Olympic hopes. If a team won the first quarterfinal game, they clinched a berth. That made up for four of the five berths. The four quarterfinal losers would play a "loser's semifinals" to compete for that fifth and final berth.
With Brazil needing a win against Belarus in the quarterfinals, it all fell apart. The favored Brazilian team fell behind Belarus, and in a shocking turn of events, Iziane Castro Marques, the premier player on the Brazilian women's team, refused to take the floor for the second half after an argument with coach Paulo Bassul.
(Bassul tells his side of the story at this link, in a video interview.)
As far as Bassul is concerned, Iziane is off the team for the rest of the qualifying tournament. Could Iziane get back on the team if she apologized and if Brazil earned that hard-to-get fifth berth? Bassul didn't want to commit to anything. "That's out of my hands."
We don't know what Izi's side of the story is. Given the spotty coverage of international women's basketball, we might never know.
I've tried to use Google translate on some Brazilian pages, and the impression given is that Iziane Castro Marques will be back in the United States on Sunday, just in time to suit up for the Dream against the San Antonio Silver Stars. Izi says that she was story, but she also says that this isn't the first disagreement that she's had with Bassul. Izi says the feeling between the two is mutual, and that she will refuses to play for Bassul ever again. Breaking down and crying, she said that if she couldn't be happy playing, then it wasn't worth it to play even if it was for Olympic gold. She thought that the other players wanted her back, but that they couldn't convince the coaching staff to change their minds.
So Izi will be back with the Dream next week. Hopefully, she can put her experience at Madrid behind her, no matter whose fault it was. And hopefully, she'll find the happiness in Atlanta that she couldn't find in Brazil.