RIO DE JANEIRO (FIBA Americas Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Competition for spots in Brazil's squad is going to be fierce not only this summer but in the years to come as the national team looks to cement its standing as one of the best in the sport.
At the FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas, Venezuela, the Brazilians will have to be at their very best if they are going to have a top-four finish.
That’s what is needed to qualify for next year's FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
A player who is raising eyebrows in the Brazil national team set-up is 21-year-old Rafael Donatti Alves Maia.
A student-athlete at Brown University in American college basketball, he has already had a chance to work out in practice for Brazil coach Ruben Magnano.
"Ruben has a way of training of the highest quality," Rafael said.
"He strives for excellence in everything he does.
"He takes notice of every detail, positioning, defense, everything.
"He is a great teacher."
Magnano hasn't been reluctant to include youngsters in his teams since taking over Brazil before the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Point guard Raul Neto was a teenager in his team in Turkey, so Rafael will know that good performances at the upcoming University Games in Kazan, Russia, could help pave the way for him to making Magnano's team this year or next.
In his sophomore season at Brown, Rafael, a center, averaged 10.5 points and an Ivy League high 7.5 rebounds per game.
He is ambitious.
"I really want to represent Brazil in the Olympics," he said.
"After that I want to accomplish the dream of every Brazilian who is passionate about basketball, to join the biggest basketball league in the world, the NBA."
Brazil should be among the favorites at the FIBA Americas Championship, which tips off at the end of August.
They will take on Uruguay, Jamaica, Canada and Puerto Rico in Group A.