Neemias Queta becomes first Portuguese player to appear in an NBA game

Friday night was a special moment for Kings player Neemias Queta
Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 17: Neemias Queta #88 of the Sacramento Kings grabs the rebound during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 17, 2021 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
by Jonathan Bradley

Kings center Neemias Queta made history Friday night when he became the first Portuguese born player to log minutes in an NBA game in Sacramento’s 124-105 loss to the Grizzlies. 

Queta, who was born in Barreiro, Portugal, tallied just eight minutes but made the most of his opportunity, finishing with five rebounds, one assist and one block. 

“I’m excited for him. We talked about it pre-game, how much it meant to him and the fact he had an opportunity to make history tonight,” Tyrese Haliburton said after Friday’s game. “It’s something that you can’t take it back – he’s a legend for his country, and it’s pretty cool that that happened for him.”

Queta is currently signed to a two-way contract with the Stockton Kings but was called up Wednesday to help a shorthanded team that had seven players out due to injury or the league’s health and safety protocols. 

The seven-foot big man entered the game with just over one minute remaining in the first half and immediately made his presence felt, recording his first-career NBA block as time expired in the quarter. 

“They looked at when it was like a minute [left], and I’m like ‘get him,’” Interim head coach Doug Christie said. “They were like ‘uhh’ and I’m like, ‘no, no, this is the perfect time for him to wet his feet, see what it’s all about.’

“Then right after the half, I asked him, ‘were you nervous?’ And [he said no] and I was like, ‘that’s what I expected, for you to do your thing.’ I’m really proud of him. We talk a lot. I’m a really big fan of his, I think that he has a really, really bright future in this league and for this franchise.”

With the Kings scheduled for back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday, and the team still dealing with roster uncertainty, Queta will likely get another opportunity to make his mark on an NBA game soon. 

“It’s a great accomplishment just to be able to be on the floor and get some reps in and be able to play,” Queta said. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been dreaming of this day since I started playing basketball and I’m really happy it happened today.”

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