Abel Baptista is a 23 year old 193cm guard from Belgium that last season played with VOO Liege Basket (Euromillions League) playing 9 games averaging 10.7ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 82.1%. In 2018-2019 he played with Fellows Ekeren BBC Antwerp (Top Division I) averaging 15.8ppg, 7.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.2spg, 2.8bpg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 58.6%. In 2017-2018 he played with Hubo Limburg United (Euromillions League) playing 19 games averaging 2.0ppg. In 2016-2017 he played with Kon BC Gistel Oostende Duva Fruit (Top Division I) playing 20 games averaging 16.2ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 72.3%. He began his basketball career with Port of Antwerp Giants B . He spoke to germanhoops.com during the summer of 2020 about basketball.
Abel thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been despite the whole COVID-19 crisis?
Thanks for having me. At this moment I’m at home with my family in Antwerp, Belgium. Despite the crisis my summer has been quite busy. I’ve had rehabilitation workouts and also basketball workouts and lifting weights, all of the good stuff basically.
How did you experience the whole COVID-19 crisis in Belgium. You played your last game on January 11th. Did you have tough injuries that effected your last season?
Because of the crisis I actually had more time to spend with my family, being with them basically 24/7 almost everyday for a couple of months. Something that I haven’t been used to ever since I joined the youth program at Antwerp Giants back in 2012. Yes I did get injured last season. I had plantar fasciitis which is a very nagging injury in the heel and feels like someone is stabbing a knife in your foot, that’s how painful it was. But I had treatment and rehabilitated and now I’m finally healthy and working out and playing basketball again. Thanks to the crisis (weird to say this) I had more time to rehab and work on my body. I feel good right now.
Was it a difficult challenge for you during COVID-19 to find gym time and a suitable place to keep in shape and practice your basketball skills?
Yes it was really difficult because in Belgium there are no open gyms and you have to use your creativity a little more. I worked out in my backyard and in my room to get back in shape but it’s really different from actually going to a gym because of the lack of apparels. I just made the best out of it and thank goodness the gyms are back open so I got back in shape pretty quickly since then.
How do you feel has the whole COVID-19 experience made you stronger as a man during these hard times?
It definitely made me stronger, it also made me a little more patient because everything actually slowed down and there’s nothing I could do about it. I can only control what I can control.
You played last season with VOO Liege Basket (Euromillions League) playing 9 games averaging 10.7ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 82.1%. You left in January 2020. How content were you with your season? Would it be fair to say that it was your strongest season as a professional?
I’m really hard on myself so I’m not really that satisfied with my season. I honestly feel that I could’ve done way better but I’ll try to do better wherever I might end up next season. Yes, this is my strongest season as a professional but I feel like there’s more to come. I feel like I can do more and I can do better.
What is your focus now as you search for a new club? You have played in Belgium your whole career. Do you feel like you might stay at home or could you imagine playing in another country?
Right now I’m focused on working on my game.And I’m staying ready for an opportunity whether it’s here in Belgium or abroad.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 193cm guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
That’s a very good question. I think I play like DeMar DeRozan (without all of the athleticism lol) but with a better three point shot. And maybe a little bit like Jimmy Butler. But I try to watch as many as possible different NBA players so I can add a little something of everybody in my game.
Talk a little about your strengths. What do you feel is the biggest asset in your game?
My drive to the basket and creative finishes are definitely the biggest assets in my game. But my three point shot has also become a threat for sure. You can’t leave me open.
You shot 42% from outside in the Euromillions league last season. Do you feel like you have the needed self-confidence now to be able to keep shooting high percentages from outside?
Yes, I feel more confident about my shot right now but I’m not going to relax because it still needs more work to become a real threat. As were speaking right now, I’m actually extending my range a little more and working more on the off dribble pull up.
What kind of experience was it taking part at the 2020 Euromillions Allstar 3 point shooting contest? Which shooter in general is your biggest role model?
I didn’t take part in the Allstar 3 point shootout because I was injured. But my favorite shooter right now is definitely Damian Lillard
On what parts of your game are you working on most as you continue to work yourself up the basketball ladder?
I’m working on every aspect of the game. I think it’s important to work on everything, especially with the time I have right now. I just work on everything.
Two seasons ago you played with Fellows Ekeren BBC Antwerp (Top Division) averaging 15.8ppg, 7.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.2spg, 2.8bpg, FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 58.6%. How important was this season for you taking a step back after a tough season with Limburg?
It was a step back I had to take to stay ready for the next opportunity.
In 2017-2018 you played with Hubo Limburg United (Euromillions League) playing 19 games averaging 2.0ppg. What do you remember from this season and what do you feel was the most positive thing that you gained from this time?
I remember everything from that season. Despite the lack of playing time I had a really good time learning from all of my teammates and coaches, everybody was cool. And I’ll definitely remember the life lessons I got from the team captain Wen Mukubu.
After playing the first years of your career with Port Of Antwerp, in 2016-2017 you switched to Kon BC Gistel Oostende Duva Fruit (Top Division I) playing 20 games averaging 16.2ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 72.3%. What memories do you have from this season and how vital was that season for your development being it was your first club after Antwerp?
I remember every single detail of that season. That was my favorite season ever for sure, I had great teammates, a great coaching staff and we had a great supporting cast over there. Everything was great in Oostende.I could say that it prepared me for the professional basketball world.
You began your basketball career with Port Of Antwerp. What memories do you have from your early basketball schooling and could you imagine returning back in the future to play?
I remember the first practices there. Very tough because it was my first time practicing twice a day everyday but I learned a lot and it made me better. I could see myself returning one day but we’ll see what the future holds.
Who was the toughest player that you ever played against that was in the NBA?
I never played in the NBA but the toughest player I played against in the Euromillions League is Braian Angola
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
There’s too many to just name 5 lol
Please list your NBA Mount Rushmore of players past or present
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate between who is the best between Michael Jordan and Lebron James?
I think it’s something subjective and everybody is entitled to have its own opinion but MJ is the GOAT by far!
What was the last movie that you saw?
I don’t really watch movies that often, therefore I can’t remember. But I love watching series and the last series I watched is called Black-ish.
Thanks Abel for the chat.