Moreira says having fun could deliver success to Petro’s BAL run

YANICK Moreira’s career is one of Africa’s greatest success stories in basketball. From his youth and into his prime he has enjoyed a playing career illuminated by trophies. While many would be content if they had half of what Moreira has won, he on the other hand remains hungry for more.

While fortunate to have been in winning situations in his journey, the foundational work of moulding and shaping the phenomenal Petro de Luanda player started in his home country, Angola. He says witnessing the esteemed Palancas Negras showing out in continental competition led him to his present path. 

“I fell in love with basketball by watching my national team (Angola) playing in the AfroBasket in Luanda. It inspired me to want also wear the national team vest and represent my country at highest level,” explained the 32-year-old.

Angola'sYanick Moreira
Yanick Moreira’s love for basketball started when he saw the Angolan national team play. Pictures FIBA

While enamoured by his country’s exploits on the court, his family, on the other hand, were sceptical of his decision to play basketball. They felt Moreira would have better outcomes if he pursued education. 

Fortunately for the big man, there would be a turning point that changed his family’s opinion about his pursuit of basketball.

“They were not sure how far I would go with basketball. In their (family) opinion, school and getting a degree was my best option,” said Moreira. “Thats until they saw me play for the national team… ‘You are good’ was how they responded.” 

Having changed his family’s opinion on his career choice, Moreira continued to thrive, and a world of opportunity opened, and his cup of success also flowed.

He had already enjoyed multiple league and cup successes before jetting off to the United States on a college scholarship. At the latter end of his time at South Plains College, his team won the NJCAA tournament, and he also scooped the MVP award (all in 2012). He was also an NJCAA All-American.  

In his final college year (2015) at Southern Methodist University, where he graduated, he was also the ACC’s Most Improved Player and Second All-ACC team.

As a professional player, he attained NBA G League success with 905 Raptors in 2017 and won a FIBA Champions League title with Italian club Virtus Bologna. Moreira says the genesis of his winning attitude stems from the national team and former club, Primeiro de Agosto’s “winning culture”.


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“I have grown up in a winning culture. I grew up playing for Primeiro de Agosto, and every game we played, we had to win. So, having that mentality at a young age helped me wherever I went. I always tell myself, ‘I know how to win,” said Moreira. “Also, watching my national team win most of the time was encouraging.

“I also told myself, ‘I want to bring something back for my country.”

He also had a reflection on his decade-long overseas experience. The former AEK Athens player says leaving Angola built his character.

“It made me stronger (playing overseas), especially as I was away from my family. My desire was to play basketball at a higher level and somebody gave me an opportunity to make the most of my talent. I have never looked back, since then,” said Moreira. “I realised how far basketball can take me. With focus, dedication, and with hard work, the opportunities came.”

Following a shortlived stay in Israel with Hapoel Afula BC, Moreira recently returned to Angola. He is helping to lead Petro’s charge for a 17th Angolan Basketball League title. The 2.11m (6ft11) big man also wants to change the fortunes of Os Tricolores in the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a trophy that has eluded the Angolan giants since the tournament tipped off in 2021.

Yanick Moreira playing in BAL Season 2
Yanick Moreira feels his game is improving with every year.

Moreira was part of the Petro team that made their only final in 2022, in which they lost Tunisia’s US Monastir. As Petro heads to their fourth BAL, he urges his teammates to enjoy themselves more. 

“Of course, you always want to win… It will always be in our minds, but we also need to do is have fun. Play smart. Play together, but most importantly, have fun and enjoy,” emphasised Moreira. “Many teams do not get the opportunity to play at the BAL. We need to enjoy this moment because you don’t know when you will get it again.

“For forty minutes, you can forget the stuff going on in your life and enjoy basketball. It’s forty minutes of doing what you love.” 

Another aspect Moreira is enjoying is developing his game. As a veteran player, he’s added a few more tricks to his bag to outsmart opponents. 

“I feel great (about my game). As you get older, you add some stuff to become better. Every year, I feel I am getting better,” said Moreira. “I want to get better by the time the BAL starts. I am in great shape and ready to go.”

Moreira’s return to Petro significantly improves their BAL aspirations. He has won in the parts of the world he played in. Hopefully, his championship pedigree will rub off on the Angolan juggernaut.

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