Brazil’s Lipe Fontelles had memorable performances during this year’s WCH, even though he fought a nagging recurring elbow injury throughout the whole competition. After putting his body on the line for the team, his teammates had nothing but praise of him:
“There were so many battles, so many wars there. So I thanked Lipe very much. This was was a guy who came to the WCH with his elbow full of problems and he never gave up. He was a guy who always pulled the team up, an example of overcoming and sacrifice.” Brazil’s captain Bruninho.
However, his willingness to play injured has put the team’s biggest start, Ricardo Lucarreli, at the center of much criticism, after he decided not to play in the tournament, even though he was medically cleared after surgery, and participated instead, in his team’s state championship. Former Brazilian legend Giba was scathing in his criticism of the player:
“We have to start paying more attention to the actions of club owners in Brazil. Lucarelli should’ve been with the team. You can not just be out if you are recovered, and playing with your team in the state championship against a third division team no one has ever heard of. Mauricio is a different case, he had surgery. But Lucarelli? Cmon, such a thing does not exist. I found it very wrong of him and he should’ve chosen to override his team’s decision.”
It is not yet clear how Lucarreli’s decision to bow out of the tournament will affect his participation with the team in the squad’s next tournaments, specially since naturalized Cuban superstar Yoandy Leal will joining the team in 2009 and plays at the outside hitter position. Regardless, the Brazilian is in a tight spot, as he said prior to the WCH that he wasn’t ready to play at his best, but still performed with his club team while the WCH was going on. Players such a him are always at a conundrum: play for the national team or for the club that pays their $1 million salary?
“It’s good to be back” – August 1