While many sports fans likely watched the National College Football Playoff Championship on Monday, the Sacramento Kings faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in a contest that would be decided by the final blow of the game.
The Kings unfortunately lost the contest 108-109 after a failed shot attempt by De’Aaron Fox to the buzzer to win the game, but eventually everyone got to see some real quality minutes from the rookie – and Portugal native – center. Neemias Queta.
After Monday night’s game, interim head coach Alvin Gentry had some nice words about the young big man.
“I thought Neemi was really, really good,” Gentry said. “Obviously this is the first time he’s really playing NBA minutes and I think he came out and did a good job. He took some big rebounds and tried to finish strong in the basket like we would like him to. Even on the blocked shot, I don’t mind as long as you go in there and try to end up like this.
Queta finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds, an assist and a steal on 57% of the shots from the field. He played precious minutes off the bench at a position where the Kings have needed help for many years, and he gave the Kings a shot on a night where they were led most of the game. .
Tyrese Haliburton also congratulated Queta for his contributions on Monday.
“I was really excited for him,” said Haliburton. “Obviously he’s a fan favorite, a league favorite, a country favorite, so I’m just excited for him. He came here and he made plays, good defensive plays… I just thought he had a good game overall.
Queta posted a +8 team plus-minus. When he was on the ground, there was a real defensive presence in the painting. Even against a team that is almost three-seven feet in its starting lineup. It didn’t take long for Queta to look comfortable in a competitive NBA game.
“He performed well in the G League so it’s not much of a surprise,” said Haliburton. “We know what he’s capable of and we’re really excited for him.”
Much like his teammate Damian Jones, Queta patiently waited for his chance to prove his worth. He was dominant in the G League while waiting to be called up to the pros and racked up many college accolades before that. He’s been Mountain West’s defensive player of the year twice and made numerous teams at all conferences.
On Monday, all of his hard work and sacrifice finally paid off, as Queta became the first Portuguese-born player to score in an NBA game. Only a rookie, Queta is already rewriting the history books.
“In college there was a period where I went two years without coming home and seeing my family,” Queta said. “It’s the type of sacrifice you have to make, but at the same time it really pays off for experiences like this: being able to play in the NBA and being comfortable there.”
Like many other foreign players, Queta isn’t just around to mess around. He is ready to give up everything to achieve his dreams and make a name for himself in the NBA. After the presentation he gave on Monday, Gentry will likely give Queta more opportunities to show off who he is, something he and the Kings loyalists are very keen to see.
“Alvin told me right before the game to be ready because he was going to come see me early and I’ve been feeling ready for a while, so I just put in the work and I feel like it’s ‘is presented today, “Queta said. .