LUANDA (FIBA Africa Champions Cup Women 2017) – After lifting the FIBA Africa Champions Cup Women 2017 crown with Primeiro de Agosto last month, shooting guard Adalberta Juliana Firmino Candeias is still basking in joy but with a new objective.
The 19-year old shooting guard, who made her debuts at the continental tournament in front of home fans, was among the trio that was promoted from the club’s youth system that has moulded the best players in the country over the past three decades.
The confidence she displays on court can be mistaken for experience but those who know Candeais point at her avid search for greatness, to be listed among the big names to have graced the hoops game in Angola.
Her dribble is firm, solid game reading and ability to think for the team at a continental level is worthy of admiration not only from those that know her from her days at the Primeiro de Agosto academy but even her opponents.
It has been a journey full of promise so far with the guidance of head coach Jaime Covilha who chose to give an opportunity to two other age mates Isabel Simba Mendes and Avelina Nene Ezequiel Peso also from the club’s prestigious academy.
“It was a privilege for me to be on the team for this tournament. Most of the players are on the senior national team and it was a big opportunity for me to show what I learnt in the academy. I am so happy.” – Candeias
Candeias scored eight points, made four assists and picked two rebounds to help Primeiro de Agosto secure a 65-42 win over Equity Bank Hawks of Kenya in the Quarter-Finals to book a place into the last four.
This was the game that launched her onto the continental scene catching the eye of many but also it marked the beginning of her rise to the top of the ladder, a feat she intends to maintain.
“I came prepared but I was nervous in the beginning but when I felt comfortable, everything started to flow in the game. I am really excited about the way I played,” she told FIBA.basketball.
Primeiro de Agosto head coach Covilha did not hide his content, “She is a young player from the academy and this kind of players are always looking for opportunities like this to play at this high level and they rarely get them. They have to prove a lot to play and she showed this in the game.”
Candeais explained that, “It is a privilege for me to be on the team for this tournament. Most of the players are on the senior national team and it is a big opportunity for me to show what I learnt in the academy. I am so happy.”
“It was an honor to see my name on the scoreboard. Even if I scored one point, it is enough playing along senior players like Sonia (Ndoniema) and Luisa (Tomas). It is a great honor. Every time I think about it, it puts a big smile on my face,” she said with admiration.
The soft-spoken and jolly Candeias is full of admiration for Mozambican poster girl Leia Dongue and it is the latter’s attitude, physical strength and focus during the game that does it for her no matter the opponent.
Candeias emphasizes that, “I want to do better in every game and improve on my mistakes and give my teammates reason to trust me as well as the coaching staff.”
Having featured for the Angolan junior side at the FIBA Africa U18 Women’s Championship 2016 in Egypt where her side finished fourth, her target is to play on the senior national team.
Covilha is studying her progress and according to Candeias seeing point guard Rosa Gala and Ana Goncalves take up the mantle on the national side is encouragement enough that she will get her call-up in the near future.