Three players from the Brazilian men's wheelchair basketball national team had an unusual experience on Saturday (16 April) in Rio de Janeiro. On the other side of the court were three members of Flamengo, Brazil's current three-time Brazilian basketball league champion and one of the most popular clubs in Brazil.
Leandro de Miranda, Dwan Gomes dos Santos and Leandro Soares de Oliveira squared up with Marcelinho Machado and Gege Rafael Mineiro from Flamengo who played the sport for the first time in wheelchairs.
After an explanation about the rules and tips on how to move with the wheelchair, the players practiced for about 15 minutes. The event took place in Flamengo's training court in Rio, which will be used as base camp for US Paralympics during Rio 2016 Games.
Member of the Brazilian squad in the 2012 London Olympics, Marcelinho said: "It was great to be able to play against them. I just have to thank them for the opportunity. It takes a lot of strength to play, especially in the arms, and also quickness and speed to change the wheelchair's direction."
"Actually, if they had played at full strength, we would not even be able to move around the court. Congratulations and I wish them best of luck in this year Paralympics," added the 41-year-old Olympian.
Last week Brazil's national team completed a training camp that included four friendly matches against Canada in Rio. The home team won three of them. Meanwhile, Flamengo is currently preparing for the playoffs of the Brazilian Basketball League.