No matter what Rafa Luz does in basketball, it will be hard for the MoraBanc Andorra playmaker to really brag about his accomplishments at family gatherings, given the amazing careers that his older sisters had long before he came along.
Mind you, the 26-year-old Luz is already well established in basketball, having spent most of his pro career in Spain, playing for two teams in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, not to mention playing in the 2016 Olympics with the Brazilian national team thanks to having won the 2015 Pan-American Games.
But the 1.88 meter tall playmaker, who is making his 7DAYS EuroCup debut this season, knows that his sisters have loads of hardware, too. Helen won the 1994 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup title and bronze at the 2000 Olympics while playing in five women's World Cups and three Olympics. Silvia won silver at the 1996 Olympics and Olympic bronze in 2000 with Helen.
But comparing trophies or medals is not what the family is about, insists Rafa.
"I always say that my goal is to get as close as I can to their success, even knowing that it will be difficult," Luz said. "I have a lot of years ahead of me so when I finish my career we can see. But we don't think too much about it. We just want our surname connected with basketball."
Rafa is the last of the siblings to still play as 46-year-old Cintia and 43-year-old Silvia retired in 2012, while 45-year-old Helen left the game in 2011. There was also younger sister, Sully, who represented Brazilian youth national teams, but no longer plays. Leading the family was their father, Nelson, who was also a player and a coach.
"It was fun because as long as I can remember I was playing the game," Luz said. "When we had meals together, we talked a lot about basketball, and of course my family always supported me and helped me with basketball and life, too."
That said, Luz never felt pressure either to play or to outperform his sisters.
"I never felt that," he says. "My family always helped me with this and we never compared our careers. I am just trying to take the same path because I see how happy they are right now. I'm not thinking of having a better career than them. I just want to be happy like my family."
Luz is very happy and excited to be back on the European and Spanish stage with Andorra. The last time European basketball saw him, the Brazilian playmaker had gone down with a torn ACL in his left knee just before the 2017 Spanish League playoffs started for his team then, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz.
During his rehab, Luz got a tattoo that reads, in translation: "It doesn't matter how many times you fall down; it is how many times you get up."
"I was lucky because one of my sisters and friends are physiotherapists, and they helped me a lot with it," said Luz, who went through his rehab back home in Brazil. "And I think for a high level player that statement says it best. We have to get up every time we fall, so I was focused during the recovery on coming back better. Some days you feel of lot pain, others you don't see any improvement. But then in the end, it is all about your mind."
Luz returned to the court in December 2017 and joined the Brazilian club Vivo/Franca Basquete Sao Paulo, getting the chance to play in front of his family in Sao Paolo.
"It was so good. All my fans, friends and family were so happy for me. Every day off I had the opportunity to go home, so it was a great year having all my people close to me."
But Luz wanted to get back to Europe, and he ended up signing with Andorra, adding to his previous stints with Spanish clubs such as Unicaja, CB Granada, Lucentum Alicante, Obradoiro CAB and Baskonia.
"I think I showed that I can play at a high level," Luz said. "We had a great year in Baskonia that year and I had some good games, so I think Andorra believed in me after that year, even though I was coming back from a serious injury."
The Brazilian loves being back in Europe and near Spain in the Andorran principality.
"Even though it's a different country, you feel you're like in Spain. We have great fans and beautiful views," he says.
Luz wants to do all he can for Andorra, especially with his energy and defense, as he did with 4 assists and 2 steals in the team's first win of the EuroCup, a 110-91 shootout against Germani Brescia Leonessa this week.
"I don't have any personal goals," he states. "I feel that I play well when the team wins and I see my teammates happy."