Tiago Splitter has represented his country during a handful of international events, but hip surgery will keep him from participating in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Atlanta Hawks center posted on Instagram he elected to have a season-ending procedure and is expected to be sidelined for eight months. Splitter said:
“I always loved to play, either for my team or the Brazilian national team. But these pains increased and become increasingly unbearable. I did all the treatments and therapies available, however nothing solved the pain I felt, and it only increased with every single game.”
While his NBA club will turn to Mike Scott and Mike Muscala to pick up the vacated minutes, the Brazilian national team might not find a suitable replacement for Splitter.
He finishes the 2015-16 season — his first with the Hawks after being traded from the San Antonio Spurs to create cap room for LaMarcus Aldridge — averaging 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game off the bench.
Anderson Varejao and Nenê will likely carry Brazil’s frontcourt during the Olympics, which is at least an improvement on recent tournaments.
During the 2015 FIBA Americas without the Splitter, Varejao, Nenê and even Rafael Hettsheimeir, the combination of J.P. Batista, Augusto Cesar Lima and Rafael Minerio handled most of the minutes up front. Brazil is certainly going to miss Splitter’s rim-protecting presence.
But even if only for a moment, let’s forget about basketball as a game and instead focus on the sport as a showcase.
Splitter represented Brazil on the gold medal-winning 2009 FIBA Americas roster as well as during the 2012 Olympics when the club finished fifth. He’s been a vocal leader for the national team and often shared the important of these games.
Unfortunately, though, Splitter’s country won’t see him perform on the grandest international stage. The rest of his basketball career — both for the Hawks and Brazil — should and did take precedent, but it’s still disappointing he won’t suit up to play in front of the hometown crowd.