ZARAGOZA (Olympics) - The ultimate thrill and honor for the lucky athletes is to put on the national team uniform and compete at an Olympic Games.
Rafael Hettsheimeir put himself into a good position to do just that when playing a vital role in Brazil's run to the silver medal at the
2011 FIBA Americas Championship, and he strengthened his chances with terrific and at times dominating displays for CAI Zaragoza in Spain's Liga Endesa this season.
Good fortune hasn't been on the 2.09m power forward's side, however.
While Hettsheimeir was named in the preliminary squad for the London Games, he was also told by doctors he requires a knee operation that will sideline him for two months.
"I wanted to cry," Hettsheimeir said.
"I was very sad because my goal was to be with the Brazilian team in the Olympics, especially after our ranking in the Pre-Olympic (FIBA Americas Championship).
"I just thought of London.
"You never imagine getting injured, especially at the (national
"The pain is even greater."
Hettsheimeir says he played with pain for the last three months of the season in the Liga Endesa.
"When I had the MRI to see what was happening with the knee, the Zaragoza doctor advised me to clean out (loose) cartilage.
"I was scared of everything. I went to Madrid to make an appointment with a famous doctor here in Spain, not distrusting the ability of Zaragoza's doctor, but to have another opinion.
"And he told me the same as the club doctor."
All athletes deal with injuries or health problems at some points in their careers.
Some injuries are worse than others.
Timing is everything, though, and it couldn't be any worse for the 25-year-old Hettsheimeir.
"It's a simple surgery, but necessary," he said.
"I'll be around two months recovering and that does not give me time to play in the selection.
"Before the tests, I thought it was more serious due to the pain I felt, but the doctor told me that in two months I'll be ready to play.
"Too bad we are already at the eve of the national team."
Hettsheimeir, who became a father for the first time this year, says he will be eager to return to the national team for next year.
The Olympics in 2016 will be staged in his own country, so he has a chance to play at them again with Brazil already assured of a spot as the host nation.
"I'm still very sad because I wanted to train and fight for a place among the 12 players to get an Olympic medal in London," he said.
"To play against the best basketball players in the world is a challenge that any athlete would like.
"I was pretty close to it, but the injury knocked me out.
"It's sad to know that I can't be training, participating in the group where I have good friends, but next year I'll be 100% again to return to the Brazilian national team and help my country in international competitions.
"I am very proud to do that.
"God willing I will be defending (Brazil) in Rio and helping our basketball to win a medal."