(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BYUCougars.com had a chance to speak with forward Jonathan Tavernari about playing for his native Brazil this summer and his goals for the 2009-10 season, his senior year.
BYUCougars.com: What is one thing you want to improve this offseason? How will playing for the Brazilian National Team help you achieve your goals?
JT: My main goal is to get better at everything. I'm young and I want to improve in every area. It's great to be able to practice at this high level during the offseason.
BYUCougars.com: This is your second summer with the Brazilian National Team. How is this summer different than last summer?
JT: I'm one of the more experienced guys this time. I'm a starter. I’m more involved in the offense and I’m still expected to play the role of a defensive stopper like last year. I'm more vocal this year, more of a leader. Therefore, I have more responsibility, more on my to do list, and expectations are higher for me.
BYUCougars.com: How does the international game differ from the college game?
JT: The physicality of international ball is amazing. We can use our hands more, and literally body check someone. It's great to play with more contact.
BYUCougars.com: Who is the best player you have played against in international competition? What was it like playing against him?
JT: Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) and Theo Papaloukas (Greece). I played against them last year at the World Olympic Qualifier in Athens. It was a neat experience, but you have to respect everyone the same. We’re all competitors. You can’t be star-struck when you are competing.
BYUCougars.com: Which country do you like to play in most and why?
JT: The U.S. I'm way too Americanized. My whole life is there. I love the American game and the way of life. I moved there young, and even before that, I dreamed of the American Dream.
BYUCougars.com: What does it mean to you to play for your country?
JT: It's the greatest honor an athlete can achieve in an athletic career. I get the chills every time I listen to the Brazilian National Anthem.
BYUCougars.com: You are a senior this upcoming year. What are your personal goals and what do you hope to achieve as a team?
JT: I want us to compete for a fourth-straight MWC title, have success in the MWC and NCAA tournament’s and be a consistent Top 25 team. Personally I want to help my team by dominating some aspect of every game, whether it’s rebounding, scoring, passing or defense. I want to help my team win.