Carlos Morais

Morais cherishes being on the same court as Kobe

Angolan guard wants to win it all with Petro

THE path to achieving legendary status on the African basketball scene for Carlos Morais had its share of naysayers, especially when the Angolan point guard decided he was going to make a career out of the sport.

At the beginning, the voices of doubt believed, the mercurial Morais did not have the body type for basketball and concluded he would not make it as a player. Instead of giving into those voices, the now 37-year-old showed in those formative stages, he was made of stern stuff. Morais tuned out the noise from his detractors, worked hard, and has gone on to have a storied career.

Indeed, he has carved out a legacy that makes for envious reading. It also puts to shame his detractors for doubting that he belonged on the hardwood of basketball. Some his achievements include an appearance at the Olympic Games and featuring at two FIBA World Championships. He also has four AfroBasket titles to his name.

“The biggest takeaway from my career is that you can be anything you want in this world,” said the Petro Atletico captain at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus on Saturday. “When I started, I had a small build and had to improve on certain things. Many people told me I would never become a basketball player. They told me to try a different sport.

Carlos Morais
Carlos Morais believes Petro will be better prepared for next year’s BAL. Picture BAL

“I stuck with it. I believed if I put in the work and stayed committed, I would become everything I dreamt of being. And here I am now. So my biggest take away from my career is I am everything I am meant to be.”

The Angolan player’s glittering career highlights include sharing the same court with late icon Kobe Bryant and the current leading man in basketball, LeBron James. But for Morais, going face to face against the Black Mamba in the 2008 Beijing Olympics is one of the lingering moments in the memory bank of his illustrious career.

“It was an unbelievable experience to be on the same basketball court with Kobe, LeBron and other all-time greats. It was amazing. It’s an experience very few have had and something I can share with my kids when they get older. I can tell them I played against the best in the world,” said the former Angola captain. “There are so many great experiences I have had while donning the national team’s vest. But I would say playing against Kobe was by far the biggest of them all. I am a die-hard Kobe fan. Being on the same court as him was unbelievable. From the beginning to the end of the game, I was the happiest kid on the court.”

Petro Atletico
Seasoned veteran Carlos Morais, no 6, feels good about his game. Picture: The BTO

In a career that has spanned two decades and has seen him play high school basketball in the USA and professional basketball in Portugal (Benfica) and Italy (Mans Sana), Morais still enjoys playing at the elite level for Petro Atletico.

“I am feeling good about my game. We have many young players in the team. They have fresh energy, and that keeps me going. They push me to be at my best,” said the Petro captain. “It’s a pleasure to lead this team and to play at the highest level. I want to help them win.”

With the season in Angola about to begin, Morais will lead the 15-time Angolan League champions in an exhibition against the Cape Town Tigers. Petro, who faced the Tigers in this year’s Basketball Africa League (BAL), will use the game on Sunday at Mandeville, Johannesburg, to gauge themselves.

“We expect a good game. The Tigers are a good team and have a good roster. We hope to have a good game tomorrow,” said Morais. “They can help us prepare for what is coming our way in Angola. It’s a game they will look to win, but for us, it’s about being prepared, and we want to take full advantage.”


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On the home front, Morais also expects their rivals Primeiro de Agosto and Interclube to challenge Petro, who are two-time FIBA African Club Champions.

“I think all the teams will be stronger this year. They want to be in the same position as us. So everything we are doing is to be better than what we were last season. We expect no less from the other teams,” said Morais, who also reflected on Petro’s BAL participation.

“I think in the first season, we were not ready and did not know what to expect. We did not know the level of the other teams, but we finished third. In the second season, we made a couple of mistakes in the final. Hopefully, we will have corrected those by the time the third season starts. We believe next season will be tougher than the last, so we have to be ready.”

2 thoughts on “Morais cherishes being on the same court as Kobe”

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