Joel Almeida

Joel Almeida helping FAP plot their way to Kigali

JOEL Almeida may have advanced in age, yet the desire to still want to compete and win beats in his heart. The Cape Verde-born payer, who has been a pro for 12 years, attributes his longevity in the game to simply taking care of himself.

“It’s been a blessing to play basketball for this long at the national team and club level. I have been fortunate to play the game for as long as I have,” said the 36-year-old guard and forward. “The work I put in the offseason and during the season to take care of my body is important. I am always in the gym getting my body prepared and watching what I put in it. Finally, I remain focused. I believe if you put in the work you will be rewarded.”

Almeida added: “Taking care of your body is key because it’s the biggest tool one needs to perform on the basketball court. Keeping your body in a pristine condition will allow you to play for many years. There is also the aspect of maturity and experience. Those two elements can make a player lethal.”

The veteran guard is eager for success on two fronts. Firstly, Almeida, who signed with Cameroon club Forces Armees et Police (FAP) for the second edition of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), wants to achieve success on the continent.

Joel Almeida
Joel Almeida is still hungry for success at 36-years-old. Pictures: Supplied

Lastly, the national team of Cape Verde has the opportunity to qualify for next year’s FIBA World Cup in Japan and the Philippines. Almeida, who is part of the island nation’s campaign to try to punch in their ticket for the global event, believes it is an achievable dream.

On the World Cup qualifiers, Almeida says the island nation has the playing personnel and the capability to make it to Asia next year.

“It’s been an amazing journey. I feel this group of Cape Verde players have a lot to give. Those are my brothers in arms. We finally have a team that has the country’s best players, and we want to move forward,” said Almeida.
Cape Verde, semi-finalists in last year’s AfroBasket in Rwanda, are in fourth spot in their World Cup qualifying Group A, and they are a single point behind group leaders Nigeria.
While Almeida has high ambition for the Cape Verdean team, he knows that there is another round of matches to be played for them to win in their group. That’s not all; there is the hurdle of the second round of continental qualifiers that they would have to navigate past.

“We have something to build on when we resume the qualifiers in July. It would be huge for us if we qualified for the next stage of the qualifiers. That is where our focus is, and I strongly believe Cape Verde is going to be there. We are going to fight to get there,” said the former Brockport State player.



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For now, Almeida does not have to worry pertaining his national team. His focus is on helping the FAP club with their BAL campaign in Cairo.

In their second appearance in the BAL, FAP hope to do better than their quarter-final appearance last year in Rwanda. Can Almeida, who joined the club in the preliminary qualifiers last year, be one of the cogs that takes the team further?

“Being the veteran in the team, I want to help put them in the best position. I am familiar with continental basketball and the players. So I have to pass on the experience and knowledge I gained throughout my career for the team to succeed,” said Almeida, who has won cup competitions at the club level in Portugal and Georgia. “Our main goal is to be in Kigali. We have to keep our eye on that prize. This journey is a step-by-step process. So we have to focus on the next game and get the win. I believe when we step on the court, we can compete against anyone because we have a great team.”
The Nile Conference club had a fine start to the competition with a win (77-60) over the Democratic Republic of Congo club, Espoir Fukash.

In that game on Sunday night, Almeida led his team to victory scoring 23 points and also recorded four steals against the Congolese club. The well-travelled player, who is playing for his 15th club, welcomes his team’s good start. But a player of his status and experience knows the challenges that lie ahead.

“It’s always great to start the tournament on a good note. It was a great win for us collectively. We are motivated, but we have to keep ourselves on an even keel. We now have to focus on the next opponent,” said Almeida, who reflected on his performance against Fukash. “It’s all a team effort. I scored those points because my teammates found me. So it was a collective effort. Every game will have a different story, and another player will step up for the team. That is why we are here. We are a team and a family.”

Joel Almeida
Joel Almeida believes FAP have enough talent to be successful in the BAL.

FAP had two days of rest ahead of their Wednesday night clash against South African club Cape Town Tigers, who are 0-2 in the competition. Almeida says he was impressed with what he saw from the Tigers in their opening game against Angola’s Petro Atletico.

“Uh, Cape Tigers. Great team. I have nothing but great things to say about them. They are up and coming and played against good teams to get here. They gave a good account of themselves against Petro. It’s just that some things did not go their way in that match, but you can see they have the talent. They have some great individual players,” said Almeida. “So we have to stay focused and do our best against them to come away with a victory.”

When Almeida and his teammates step onto the court against the wounded Tigers, there will be little room for niceties. A win over the South African club will go a long way in ensuring they get a last eight spot for the Kigali leg of the BAL.

*  Time 11pm (GMT +2), Wednesday, 13 April
*  Fixture: Cape Town Tigers (South Africa) v FAP (Cameroon)

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  1. Pingback: Almeida, Cape Verde dream big ahead of World Cup | The Big Tip Off

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