Nothing was easy in the life of Leandro Lima, aka “The Discreet.” Born and raised in Rocinha Favela, one of the most dangerous in Rio de Janeiro, he lived his childhood closer to criminality than to a basketball court. At the age of 15, when he started playing, he showed tons of talent and skill but lost his chance to be the Brazilian representative of the Harlem Globetrotters and a chance to go to the national league.
But last Saturday at Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo, the story ended differently. When Moises “G5” Vieira jumped for the winning shot with the clock showing two seconds to the end of the game, a block from “The Discreet” gave him the win (15 to 14), the title of the National Finals and a ticket to the World Finals, on Alcatraz.
The week was really momentous to Leandro. On Thursday he won the regional qualifier in Rio that gave him a place in the National Finals. Two days later he was at the court again, fighting for a place on Alcatraz. On Sunday, he moved to Spain, where he's starting a new life playing for a club in the fourth division.
“I wasn't afraid of anyone here, and I'm not afraid of Baby Shaq, either."
“This week will definitely be remembered forever," Lima said. "Everything happened so fast, but I feel really amazing. It's very hard to play in São Paulo, because the rivalry against Rio is really big and they weren´t exactly cheering for me,” he said with a laugh.
With a very physical game and 6' 6" height, Leandro believes that he can repeat the result on Alcatraz, against the best players in the world. “I wasn't afraid of anyone here, and I'm not afraid of Baby Shaq, either. If we both step on the same court and I score more points than him, I'll win. It's all about that. When you come from where I came, it's not a basketball court that intimidates you."