Anderson Varejao last helped the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA win on February 8th. He played 32 minutes, scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 99-92 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Two nights later he'd play 19 minutes at home against Milwaukee before fracturing his right wrist and ending his season. Luckily for Brazil, he's all healed up just in time for the 2012 London Games to begin.
On Sunday, he tipped things off by helping his country move past Patty Mills and Australia in opening round pool play action. I would've said he helped lead Brazil past Andrew Bogut and Australia on Sunday, but Andrew Bogut didn't play. He was injured still, Anderson Varejao wasn't.
In 25 minutes of Olympic work, Varejao scored 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field. He grabbed 7 rebounds for the Brazilians, and added 1 assist and 2 steals on his way to earning the 75-71 win over the Aussies. Patty Mills threw in a game-high 18 points in defeat, on 7 of 14 shooting. Brazil hit a couple free throws in the final five seconds to secure the four point win.
Unlike Mills and the Aussie side, Varejao is not the only NBA'er representing Brazil in the London Games. Leandro Barbosa, Tiago Splitter and Nene are all teamed up with Andy right now too, and the squad they've formed is kind of under-the-radar-good. Brazil is certainly not Spain, the odds on favorite to finish second behind Team USA, but they're pretty deep up front when you go Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Nene.
During Sunday's win against Australia, Nene and Splitter each came off the bench (behind Varejao who started) to score 10 and 7 points in 20 and 25 minutes respectively. They also each tied Andy for a game-high 7 rebounds. Barbosa led Brazil in the scoring column with 16 points, he also added 4 assists.
Brazil is in Group B, opposite Team USA, along with Russia, Spain, China, and Great Britain, in addition to Australia. Brazil is 1-0 so far, but technically in 3rd behind Russia and Spain based on margin of victory. Their next game is on Tuesday against Great Britain.The only NBA player the home-team has is Luol Deng, and they lost to Russia by 20 over the weekend in their opener. Should be an opportunity for Andy and Brazil to get one more, and open things up with a 2-0 start.
Here's a quote from Anderson Varejao following the Australia game:
"It was a tough game. That's how it's going to be in the Olympics," Varejao said. "You can have a lot of ups and downs like we did. We knew what was going to happen, pushing, provocations. But when the game is like that I like that."
We'll be keeping tabs on Andy's trek through the 2012 London Games as the week goes on. With Rubio out, maybe Brazil can shock he world and end up winning Pool B. Stay tuned.