Reis Of Hope For Portugal

By Julio Chitunda, PA Sport

Portugal's Sonia Reis has admitted she surprised even herself after putting in a superb performance to lift her side to victory over Great Britain and into a strong position in Group B of the Division B EuroBasket Qualifiers.

The 22-year-old tore apart the British with 29 points and 15 rebounds in Saturday's 72-54 win in Nottingham.

"Against Great Britain, everything went well," Reis told PA Sport. 

"The only difference has been that the coach has been giving me more time than I've played in recent games and I've responded positively. I was a bit surprised with myself, to be honest."

Reis has set about repaying coach Carlos Portugal's faith in her, and may yet give him the ultimate reward if Portugal can get back into Division A of the EuroBasket Qualifiers.

For her own part, Reis feels she is developing as a player all the time she is on the court.

"The only way for me to feel well is to focus on the game, doing well with all the minutes I've been given," she said.

"And now I feel like a more mature player. My experience with some of the foreign players (in the Portuguese league) was essential. I feel good and in great form."

Reis has been playing in Portugal this season with Santarem Basket after a brief and unsuccessful spell in Spain with Yaya Maria.

"Yaya Maria was an experience to forget," she said. 

However, it was not enough to put her off returning to Spain, this time with Agencia Serrano Badajoz in the second division.

"I'm going to Spain, firstly, to improve my game and then win titles," she said.

"League I comes after, which is another personal goal, why not? It's [League I] very competitive and attractive. I want to be there."

Reis is certainly playing like someone destined for bigger things, and has been the top-scorer for her country during the first round of qualifying games.

Her average of 17 points per game has her third overall behind only veteran Raziya Mujanovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland's Helena Sverrisdottir.

"It's good for me because I had to learn things very quickly as I only started playing basketball at junior level. I never went through the basic fundamentals of the game," she said.

"Against Great Britain, Reis was helped by the return of Sacramento Monarchs' star Ticha Penicheiro, who had been out of the national team for five years.

"She brought more tranquility to our offensive game," Reis said.

"Scoring points has become even easier with her due to her ability to give assists. She is also very strong defensively.

But even with Penicheiro back, Portugal were denied the opportunity to pair their best two players together due to an injury to Mery Andrade of Italian side Phardi Napoli.

"We felt sorry we couldn't have the two best Portuguese players [Andrade and Penicheiro], performing together," Reis said.

"With Mery [Andrade] in the team, certainly, we should have won in Bosnia and Herzegovina."

Even so, Portugal are on course to achieve their primary aim and get into Division A.

"Our main target is so close, we'll do our best not to disappoint our fans," Reis said.


26.09.2006 - By Julio Chitunda, PA Sport
10.09.2006 - By Julio Chitunda, PA Sport

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