Nene disappointed to miss Worlds but looks toward 2012

Nuggets center back in Denver recovering from calf injury

As Nuggets center Nene made the individual rounds to his Brazilian teammates, the emotion of the moment caught up with him each time.

After nearly two months of training and bonding with the national team like never before, Nene would not be making the trip to Turkey for the FIBA World Championships because of a strained right calf.

Words did not come easy as Nene wished his teammates well.

“In the 10 years I’ve been on the national team, that’s the first time I’m very, very happy to be there because everything’s different – the players, the commission, the trainers, everything,” Nene said.

“I’m sad because I want to play for my country and represent them in the basketball world cup. But God has other plans. I understood. Everything in my life happens for a reason. The answer I will know in the future, but for now, definitely I’m sad.”

Nene, who has averaged 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds over the past two NBA seasons, was expected to be a major contributor for Brazil at the World Championships. Instead, he was working out and receiving treatment at the Pepsi Center as Brazil lost a close game to the United States in pool play Monday. He expects to be fully recovered for the 2010-11 season.

“Everything’s fine. It’s just the calf (that needs treatment),” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to be big trouble.”

Illness and injuries have prevented the 27-year-old Nene from playing for Brazil in the past three major international competitions. He missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics while recovering from testicular cancer and he was recovering from a torn knee ligament during the 2006 World Championships in Japan.

Brazil could have used Nene in a two-point loss to Team USA, but his next opportunity will be the 2012 Olympics in London. Nene would be a strong addition to a team that already includes NBA players Leandro Barbosa (Raptors), Tiago Splitter (Spurs) and Anderson Varejao (Cavaliers).

“For sure I want to play in 2012 for the national team,” he said. “I hope I can start what I finish for the national team. I can’t talk about the future. God knows. There’s a lot of things that still have to happen, but I wish and I hope that I can do that.”

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