SAO PAULO, Brazil — Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa on Tuesday broke his silence after Brazil's disappointing performance in the Americas Olympic qualifying tournament.
Barbosa denied he was "unhappy or upset" during last week's competition in Las Vegas, instead saying he kept quiet in order to stay focused and give his best for Brazil.
"I never felt that way during the tournament, despite what many people said," Barbosa said. "I was just focused on our goal. My silence was not a sign of disapproval. It was just the way I found to give my best to the country that I love so much."
Brazil finished fourth in the FIBA Americas tournament and failed to earn one of two berths available for next year's Beijing Olympics. Only the United States and Argentina qualified.
"We worked hard to get it, but unfortunately we couldn't," Barbosa said shortly after arriving in Sao Paulo.
Barbosa and Brazil will have another chance in a 12-team world qualifying tournament next July that will determine the final three berths for Beijing.
"Now it's time to grab this last chance and do whatever possible to make our dream come true," Barbosa said.
Canada will also play in next summer's qualifier.
The NBA's Sixth Man of the Year last season, Barbosa admitted that Brazil's "best chance" was in Las Vegas.
"It's going to be tougher now," he said.
Barbosa was the leading scorer in the FIBA qualifying tournament with 21.8 points per game.
On Sunday, former Brazilian great Oscar Schmidt criticized Barbosa and teammate Nene, of the Denver Nuggets, saying they did not give their best in Las Vegas. Both players skipped Brazil's winning campaign at the Pan American Games in July.
Brazil failed to qualify for both the 2000 Sydney Games and the 2004 Athens Games. The last time Brazil participated in the Olympics was at the 1996 Atlanta Games, when Schmidt was still in action.
From: http://www.globesports.com/servlet/stor ... tball/home