It took 119 minutes and 36 seconds for 45 points, 31 rebounds, six assists, eight tackles and one steal. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was historic. These were Neemias Queta’s total numbers as the 88th of the Sacramento Kings in his debut as the first Portuguese to play in the North American Basketball Association (NBA). A first step towards a long-awaited career in the best basketball in the world. A fact that Nehemiah used to follow remotely on late-night television, and is now his daily routine.
“It’s surreal to be there among all these people. Watching it from afar, on TV, feels like the life of a movie.” When I started, playing in the NBA wasn’t a goal, it was an idea. He was so young, he had no idea what he had to work on. When that idea became a goal, I had to work towards it,” Nemeas recalls of the first steps he took in basketball.
What followed is well known. After an impressive college career with the Utah Aggies and breaking into the NBA’s radar as a “Big man“With a special talent for defense, he was selected in project 2021 by the Kings and wait until December 17 last year to get his first few minutes – “several hours of thinking about that moment”. Where he really shined was in the G-League, for the Stockton Kings, where he used consistently and at more than reasonable numbers – averaging 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game – to keep him in good tempo “as he went up”.
But the first season is over. The near future may pass, and may not pass, through the Kings, the bottom team in the NBA table that no longer goes to hem 16 years ago. The Portuguese has a guaranteed contract with the Kings for 2022-23 – “we have a good relationship,” he guarantees – but the goal for the 2.13-meter Portuguese giant is “to grow up and be the dominant pole” in the NBA, as they are now, for example. , Joel Embiid, whom Nehemiah described as his most admired opponent during that time.
Nehemiah Queta was late this morning on the basketball court for a promotional event that included a 3×3 game with other players and celebrities – they all had 88 on their backs and Nehemiah’s team gear was very similar to the first one he wore, Barreirense, in the times when he was The NBA is just an idea in his head. There he spent a few hours talking to reporters, doing some dipping and taking pictures, in a more relaxed atmosphere than has become his daily routine in recent years.
How do “non-veteranFrom Kings, he was ‘forced’ to go grocery shopping for the team, one of the many practices he was exposed to. Moments in a new life when demand rose to a level. But it’s not 24/7 basketball: ‘The day starts too early.’ We get to the wing, we train as a team, and then we lift weights, which is individual. We can stay there for three or four hours in the ward in the morning, and in the afternoon every man is for himself. Sometimes I go there at night to train in what I want to improve and in the afternoon it is free time, I do what I like to do, I am very young. I love playing video games, watching TV, hanging out with friends, and just walking around town.”
Nemeas Quetta, the first Portuguese player in the league to have been from Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, doesn’t set limits on what he can do in the NBA, nor does he have any specific model he wants to follow, ensuring that he’s working to launch him into the long haul, which isn’t something His specialty at the moment. “No player wants to follow. I don’t set limits. I see someone like Steve Curry competing and I want to showcase like him, I see someone like Coffee Leonard defending and I want to defend like him. I want what they do best and learn for my game, to create the best version of me. He loves.” The NBA is really the players who know how to defend and that will be my main card, my trump card, but I want to develop, distribute the ball, enter everything.”