RIO DE JANEIRO (FIBA U19 World Championship) - Lucas Dias Silva may not turn 18 until July 6, but Brazil will be calling upon his professional experience at the upcoming FIBA U19 World Championship (27 June-7 July).
Dias was the leader in Brazil's push to the silver medal at last summer's FIBA Americas U18 Championship, averaging 15.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over five games.
This past season, the 2.06m center played in Brazil's top flight NBB league, lining out for professional side E.C. Pinheiros/Sky Sao Paolo. He averaged 4.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 11.6 minutes per game over 31 contests, scoring in double figures in four contests, including twice in the Eighth-Finals playoffs.
"We hope that his experience gained at the club will show in the team. We hope Lucas is in excellent condition. The world championship is a very fierce competition, so we'll need his technique on the court," said Brazil U19 coach Demetrius Conrado of Dias, who also appeared in four games in the Liga Americas and four more in the Liga Sudamericana.
"Experience is the most important thing for a player. He always learns and already has the talent and the athletic condition. The NBB helps develop it."
There is a lot to like in Dias' game.
"He has a good reading of the game and has a great body type. Beyond that, he's a smart guy with good fundamentals. He also has a very good height for his position. I think he needs to work on his offensive and defensive posture to improve even more,” said Demetrius."
The coach will need much more than just Dias if the South Americans want to advance from Group C, which includes Serbia, Senegal and Australia in the 27 June-7 July tournament and challenge for a medal in Prague.
Brazil however do have a strong group around Dias, including Deryk Ramos, Arthur Pecos, Leonardo Demetrio and Matheus Pereira, all of whom earned minutes this season in the NBB league.
"They are players who went through large developments and play at a great level in the league. This advances the development of the players," said Demetrius.
Other possible options for the coach are Leonardo Roese, son of former youth national team player and coach Walter Roese; Spain-based Daniel Bordignon; and France-based Felipe Braga.
Demetrius knows his team will face a difficult and balanced group.
"We can't escape high quality teams. We know the difficulties that we'll face, and that's why we have to focus on the preparation to face as equals each team," said Demetrius.
"Serbia and Australia are the strongest of the group. Serbia have a European style of play and a strong defense, besides playing very collectively. Australia are also a team with good characteristics. Senegal, despite not having a long tradition, has the value of being in the world championship. We have to deal with all opponents with respect."