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Marques Houtman: “I'm proud to be a part of the Cape Verdean national basketball team” - Sep 20, 2007

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Marques Houtman (190-G-79, college: Stonehill) is a third-generation Cape Verdean-American and a member of the national senior men's basketball selection. Alongside Rodrigo Mascarenhas, he was elected as one of the five best players in AfroBasket 2007 in Angola. In this interview with A Semana Online, he speaks of the pride he feels in being Cape Verdean and the avalanche of emotions that overtook him while participating in AfroBasket 2007.

Interviewed by Teresa Sofia Fortes for Asemana online.

You, alongside another Cape Verdean, Rodrigo Mascarenhas, were elected one of the five best players in AfroBasket 2007 in Angola, which ran from August 15 to 25. You were also considered the best point-forward in the championship. How do you feel regarding all this glory?

It's a great honor. I have the luck and fortune of having excellent teammates, who helped me achieve this feat. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to do it. It's like a dream come true, but it's the fruit of a lot of hard work.

Like the rest of the Cape Verdean selection, you also conquered the bronze medal. Are you happy with this conquest?

It's wonderful, extraordinary. We conquered the bronze medal in the 1st edition of the Lusophone Games, in 2006 in Macau. But this is even more special. I don't think anyone thought Cape Verde would manage to go so far. All of us, as a team, worked a lot from start to finish, which is why I think we deserve the bronze medal. The feeling is marvelous.

Do you think one of the factors in Cape Verde's success at AfroBasket 2007 was the surprise factor?

Yes, I think we surprised a number of teams, especially Nigeria. In my opinion, another reason for Cape Verde's success is that our team has speed, we're one of the fastest teams in all of Africa. The other national selections have big giants - and we maybe only have two - and so we use our speed to surpass them.

Based on what other players and the coaching team told me, the Cape Verdeans residing in Angola gave you a great deal of support. Considering the fact that you were born in the United States, were you aware of the existence of this community?

No. I had no idea that we'd get all that support. It was wonderful. People would go visit us, they'd show us their support, cook for us. It even seemed like we were in Cape Verde. Especially in the game against Egypt, we had a good rooting section cheering us on throughout the entire game, which was very hard because Egypt is a great team. We were able to win because we felt like we were at home, in Cape Verde.

And how did you regard the reception you had in Praia, when you returned from Angola?

It was unbelievable. It felt really good. Like I said before, it's like living a dream: seeing everyone happy because of what we did, see all those kids waving to us, happy to see us. I'm also a kid, a big kid who's still playing. I'm just 28 and I feel like I kid at heart. And when I see children happy to see us, I remember myself when I was eleven years old and I'd watch basketball players playing. I would dream of being like them one day.

Cape Verde now has to prepare for the eliminatory games for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In your opinion, what does Cape Verde need to be successful in this enterprise?

I think that most of all we need more organization in the Federation. I think that the people who are running the Cape Verdean Basketball Federation have yet to take the mission they have in their hands very seriously. Tony Barros and I, for example, should already have been in the United States a week ago [the interview was carried out on Wednesday, September 5], but we still haven't had our plane tickets confir  

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