As the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 returns to Brazil for the first time in almost 40 years, the most prestigious competition for senior men’s basketball in the Americas has named an ambassador to relay the passion of not only Brazilian basketball but also to embody what the AmeriCup means to a player.
This year, former Brazil national team member, two-time AmeriCup champion and NBA champion Leandro Barbosa was selected as the ambassador for the tournament to help all those attending the AmeriCup, whether as players, coaches, or fans, feel that championship spirit.
“People will see what Brazilian basketball is, it should be exciting. I’m so happy that I will be there and finally will be involved outside of the court, not playing this will be my first time so I’m not sure how that’s going to feel for me.”
In his 15-year career with the Brazilian national team, Barbosa competed across multiple FIBA events including the 2002 FIBA World Cup, 2003 FIBA AmeriCup, 2005 FIBA AmeriCup, 2006 FIBA World Cup, 2007 FIBA AmeriCup, 2009 FIBA AmeriCup, 2010 FIBA World Cup, 2012 Summer Olympics, 2014 FIBA World Cup, 2016 Summer Olympics and 2019 FIBA World Cup.
“Getting myself settled in the national team and getting more opportunities was a good feeling, great experience and great to be playing those type of tournaments, especially with FIBA,” said Barbosa.
Winning the AmeriCup in both 2005 and 2009, Barbosa was also the AmeriCup’s leading scorer in the 2007 edition of the tournament, averaging 21.8 points per game where Brazil came fourth place.
“As you start playing basketball you always want to do a good job and be successful and bring the gold medal for the country. It was a dream come true,” said Barbosa.
“We thought that doing those type of tournaments, bringing the medal, would be a hope that we can make basketball be bigger in Brazil and that was the beginning of my journey of my experience with the national team playing FIBA.”
Many of Barbosa’s performances in FIBA competition gathered eyes on him from the NBA, including being drafted in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft after being selected to the Brazil national team for the 2002 FIBA World Cup, and won Sixth Man of the Year with the Phoenix Suns in 2007.
After a dominant performance in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Barbosa signed with the Golden State Warriors, became an NBA Champion and is now a player mentor coach with the team.
A mentor to many younger players who are now carrying the torch for the national team, like young Brazilian star Bruno Caboclo, Barbosa will now take in the AmeriCup from the sidelines for the first time and gets to showcase what Brazilian basketball means from a new perspective.
“I’m so happy that we’re able to bring the tournament to Brazil with FIBA and I’m sure the young guys that are going to represent the national team of Brazil will do a great job,” said Barbosa.