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6. Greivis VASQUEZ (Venezuela)
Nigeria v Venezuela. 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men, Preliminary. 2 July 2012
VEN - Hard-working Greivis a positive thinker

NEW ORLEANS (FIBA Americas Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Venezuela's Greivis Vasquez understands.

He knows how fortunate he is to play basketball at the highest level.

To be in the NBA, among the world's best players, is a blessing.

The 25-year-old guard is excited to be a part of the game, and also eternally optimistic about the challenges ahead.

His team, the New Orleans Hornets, is supposed to be in outsider in the hunt for a play-off spot because the Western Conference has so many great teams, like Oklahoma City, San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas, Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Utah Jazz, Portland, Houston and Phoenix are going to be tough opponents, too.

But Vasquez, the undisputed leader of the Venezuela national side and the man that will be the focus of attention next year when his country hosts the FIBA Americas Championship, a qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, says anything is possible.

He is a positive thinker.

It's how he was able to turn a potentially a negative situation, his trade from Memphis to a struggling New Orleans outfit before the start of last season, into a good thing.

"When I got traded," he said, "I knew it was a good opportunity for me to play."

Vasquez is indeed, if anything, a player who is upbeat.

On 1 October, before the start of the Hornets' training camp, he began the day with a tweet that said: "Good Morning! Thank you God for another day to get better!"

His approach is why fans back home in Venezuela, and in New Orleans, want to follow his every move.

His exuberance is one reason why the University of Maryland retired his number and raised a jersey with his name on it to the rafters of the arena where they play in College Park.

This summer, Vasquez was a star attraction in his native Caracas at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), where Venezuela won one of their two games but came up well short of the London Games.

Instead of cruising through the rest of his summer, Vasquez chose to work out with some of his Hornets teammates on a voluntary basis.

The aim for Vasquez is to be playing with the underdog Hornets after the end of the 82-game regular season.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get to the play-offs,” he said at the team’s media day.

"How sweet will it be if we get to the playoffs, after what we went through last year?

"This season is a new start for us. That’s how we’re looking at it.

"We have high expectations. We want to do well.

"But we don’t want to be satisfied because we have a good roster.

“We want to push it to the top. It’s not going to be easy, but if we put it together, we’re going to reach what we want, which is to go to the play-offs and make a run in the play-offs.”


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