“Probably when I had my minutes. I felt very happy, it was something I had always wanted. Be part of the NBA, play. To be ‘drafted’ was very good, but, at the same time, to enter the game and live what we have always wanted to do, it is indescribable”, revealed, this Thursday, Neemias Queta when asked about the moment that marked him the most, especially his first season in the NBA.
Main star of the ‘Liga Betclic – Dá o Salto’ event, promoted by the basketball federation and Betclic, sponsor of the Portuguese men’s and women’s leagues, and also with the presence of internationals Diogo Brito and Márcia Costa, unsurprisingly, the first Portuguese to play in the NBA, who has been on vacation in Portugal since last week because the Sacramento team was out of the play-offs, remembered the night of December 17, 2021, when, 1.01 m from the he interval of the game between Kings and Grizzlies, played at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, he lived at 22 the moment he had dreamed of replacing Chimezie Metu.
In the second half, he returned to the field and ended up being used at 7.44m, registering 5 rebounds, 1 assist and an unarmed throw-in. All it took was to score the first runs, even though he had pitched but failed, and feel the taste of victory, as the Kings would lose by 105-124.
“It took many minutes and hours of thinking about getting to this moment and then finally it happened and to be able to enjoy it the way I did was very rewarding,” said the post which split the season also playing for the Stockton Kings, of the secondary league of the G League.
At the Porto de Lisboa basketball court, in Alcântara, for more than 40 minutes, Neemias answered the most varied questions from the press before playing a little 3×3 with other celebrities, such as comedian António Raminhos and DJ Kamala, both modality enthusiasts and fans of Queta, and in which Brito and Márcia have also entered.
Already about how you felt the first time you stepped on a to research of the NBA, did not hide “that at the beginning it was something strange. Young. I didn’t really know what to expect, but after a few games and a few hours people get used to it and start to relax more and over time they realize they belong. From there, keep working, see how high you can grow and see what room for improvement to get to what you want,” he says.
And which opponent gave you the most energy to face? “The player who gave me the most pleasure to face was probably the [Joel] embolism [poste dos 76’ers]. In this match, I had two fouls in 1 minute, but that’s normal. It made me want to continue to work even more and, eventually, to be able to play a good game against him and play in the best possible way against one of the best positions in the NBA and in the world.” he declares.
As for the difficulties he felt, the young man from Vale da Amoreira, 2.13m tall, did not hide that “he seems like it’s the accumulation of everything”. “Being away from family, constantly working in the lodge every day, having to upgrade everything. It was really difficult to be alone for a year, but, at the same time, it was just as rewarding because I could grow both on and off the pitch.
It remains to be determined when Neemias Queta will be able to debut in the senior national team, because during the season, when the quinas team has preparation and qualifying games, it is in the NBA and even in the summer, it has to be present on fields and summer leagues – as happened a year ago – because its evolution and even its renewal depend on it, since from July it becomes a free restrictive agent, it is i.e. the Kings always have the right of option on any offer received from another club.
“It’s a matter of time, but it will be something very soon. I really want to be part of the national team and help Portugal reach the highest level. I think we have good conditions for the future, in the medium and long term, to be at the highest level in Europe and make good European championships and succeed in achieving a little what was missing in national basketball”.
And does the national team have the capacity to reach where it has already reached the national team, but in the younger strata? “I would say yes. We have everything, all the conditions to be able to dream. The sky is the limit, we have generations of good kids playing at the highest level and players playing outside of Portugal from an early age. It’s just about continuing to work and developing that kind of talent that’s there and maintaining the direction that we’ve maintained so far,” he concluded.
See the gallery with photos by Sérgio Miguel Santos/ASF