PUERTO MONTT (2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women) - It was 27 June, 2010 in Colorado Springs, and the USA had just defeated Brazil 81-38 in the gold medal game at FIBA U18 Americas Championship for Women.
It was a hard day for the Brazilians, who could see how far behind the world's elite they were. There was only one way coach Luis Cicchetto could see his team winning a medal at the world championship at that stage. "I only dream it," he said with a chuckle.
"I knew winning a medal at a world championship is very difficult, but every time I have a dream, I dreamt about this."
When he wasn't dreaming, Cicchetto knew he had lots of work to do, and that meant his team had a lot to practice. "Shooting, vision of the game and defence," Cicchetto listed as the areas that needed most improvement. "On defence we worked very hard."
Cicchetto also knew the basics had to improve to beat the world's top teams. "In the last year, the players didn't have a good vision of the game, they made many mistakes, many balls went askew," he said.
"So every day we practiced for two hours, only on shooting, dribbling, passing the ball - the fundamentals."
The team got their dividend on Sunday, as Brazil defeated Australia 70-67 to claim the bronze medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Puerto Montt, Chile.
"I believed in the girls and they did the job, so our work is done!" a delighted but exhausted Cicchetto said. "Last year we lost to the USA, but our team was just at the start of their job.
"Now, after one and a half years as a team, now after that year and half of work, at the world cup they have done a very good job. They are a different team."
Remarkably, they are mostly the same team, and the improvement has come from within. Undoubtedly the story of the tournament has been Damiris Dantas, who averaged just 9 ppg on 23% shooting at the Americas tournament.
This year in Chile she has simply dominated the world, averaging 20.9 ppg and 12.6 rpg to lead the tournament in both categories.
While Cicchetto is full of praise for Dantas, he is also delighted with Tassia Carcavalli. The 175cm guard improved considerably through the tournament, upping her scoring from 9 ppg in the first five games to 14 ppg in the all-important last four games.
She nailed 10 three-pointers in those games and opened up the floor for her athletic bigs. "She is a very good player, Brazil has many good plans for her," Cicchetto said.
And the last word about how good it feels to win a medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women? "This sensation is very good because the team worked very hard for five months," Cicchetto said.
"We are very happy to have won the bronze medal, the first time as Brazilian team has won a medal at this tournament."