Cougars guard joins national team in Portugal for a shot at playing in the Euro final

By Costa Maragos Posted: November 10, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Carolina Goncalves, 20, travelled to Manitoba with her Cougars teammates before joining the national Portuguese team in Lisbon.
Carolina Goncalves, 20, travelled to Manitoba with her Cougars teammates before joining the national Portuguese team in Lisbon. Photo by Costa Maragos - External Relations

As Carolina Goncalves boarded the bus for the six-hour trip to Manitoba with her U of R Cougars teammates, she knew she faced a long and exciting journey ahead.

Goncalves, a guard with the U of R Cougar’s Women’s Basketball Team, played the first of the two-game set at the University of Manitoba November 3. The next day she flew to Lisbon, Portugal, to join her home country’s senior national women’s basketball team.

“I’m very proud to represent my country,” says Goncalves. “In our country, soccer is the major sport but the basketball community is big as well. When you represent your country at the highest level, all your friends, your family are so proud of you.”

Gonclaves, 20, will be on the national roster for Portugal’s two qualification games for the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2019 tournament hosted by Serbia.

Carolina Goncalves
Carolina Goncalves in action with the Cougars. She’s played a key role for the team that is ranked number one in Canada. Photo courtesy of Arthur Images.

Game one is in Lisbon against Greece on Saturday, November 11. Game two is in Tel Aviv against Israel on November 15. Those games will likely determine whether Portugal qualifies for the European championship in 2019.

While this is Goncalves’ first appearance with the senior team, she has plenty of experience representing her country on the basketball court. She made the roster of the Under 16 national team in 2013 and has moved up to each age level up to the Under 20 team in 2017.

“One the one end, I was kind of expecting it (to be chosen) because I made all of the younger teams. On the other end, I am the youngest one to participate in this new group so I am excited to gain more experience and more knowledge of the game,” says Goncalves.

Goncalves was recruited by the Cougars last year. Great timing. She has joined a strong Cougars team, which is currently ranked number one in Canada among university teams.

“We have a great team and we have a chance at a national championship,” she says.

The Cougars, as hosts of the 2018 U Sports Women’s Final 8 Basketball final, are assured a spot in the tournament March 8 – 11.

"This will be a tremendous opportunity for Carolina to compete at the senior national level," says Cougars head coach Dave Taylor. "She has adjusted well to our style of game, and though she'll miss a few important games with us we're thrilled that she'll get the experience of representing her country at the highest level of international basketball."

Goncalves is from Oeiras, Portugal, which is part of the greater Lisbon area. She only started playing basketball at the age of 14 while a student at her high school, Quinta dos Lombos. She has continued to impress coaches at all levels of competition, including Cougars staff.

“It’s another country, another culture. I’m still getting used to it. I’m very happy for being here,” says Goncalves, who says she is will working on improving her English. “From all of my teammates and coaches I am feeling at home with them here and I am really thankful for that.”

Gonclaves is in her first year of university and is taking classes in psychology, sociology, English, and yoga.

For now, however, her thoughts are with her national team, as Goncalves looks at a once-in-a-lifetime experience to help push her team to the European finals and her university team to a national championship in her new home of Regina.

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