By Anthony Lin
One of 14 children and a member of the Angolan National Team in the 2006 FIBA World Basketball Championships, former Stony Brook Seawolves center Emanuel Neto has made quite the impact on and off the court at Stony Brook University.
However, the past season for Neto on the court was not without distraction. Neto’s mother, Fatima Domingos da Silva, was ill for quite some time and sadly passed away from kidney disease.
“He’s always so enthusiastic,” stated Seawolves head coach Steve Pikiell. “Everyone in Stony Brook loves him.”
Majoring in Multidisciplinary Studies, the 6’ 9” center is adjusting to life in the United States.
“Life is very different here,” stated Neto. “Back home [Angola] there is no running water, you do not have gas, and there is no electricity every day. Society is very different. Here, the school is big in diversity.”
With Stony Brook’s short history in Division I of the NCAA, Neto had a leading role in the 2006-2007 season helping the Seawolves win more than double the amount than the previous 2005-2006 season. Neto led the 2006-2007 Seawolves in rebounds (5.5 per game) and blocks (17) after transferring from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas.
“He’s a rebounder and he blocks shots,” stated Pikiell. “He guarded Dirk Nowitzki in the 2006 World Basketball Championships in Japan.”
Despite only being in Stony Brook for two years, Neto has certainly had his memorable moments as a Seawolf. In the 2006-2007 season, Stony Brook earned perhaps the biggest victory in the program’s history with a victory over Penn State, one of the Big Ten.
“At Penn State, it was different,” said Neto. “The odds of winning that game were so small. It was just one of the biggest wins in school history. Mitchell Beauford, Mike Popoko, Ricky Lucas, and I were all just focused that game, as the coaches directed us through the whole game.”
As for the 2007-2008 season, the Seawolves lost by a close margin of 10 on the road against the highly renowned Kentucky Wildcats. Leading the team with 12 rebounds, Neto was able to create a stir even from the fans of the Wildcats.
“I got three or four e-mails from Kentucky fans saying, ‘I know you didn’t win the game, but I love #50 (Neto). He played with heart.’” mentioned Pikiell.
Aside from basketball, the former Stony Brook center plays a number of sports. Attending Colegio Henriques, Neto played soccer and volleyball before getting into basketball.
“Volleyball helped me improve the most because it helped improve my jumping ability,” said Neto. “Soccer helped me have quick feet and it also helped with my lower body.” With soccer being the common sport in Angola, Neto had a late start when it came to playing basketball.
“I was not playing basketball until around the age of 17-18,” said Neto. “I never really had an interest in basketball. I was around 17 when I finally played once and liked it. So I started practicing. There were a couple of players in my neighborhood. I also had a cousin who played for a team back home.”
On the Stony Brook campus, Neto can be found actively and vocally supporting the Seawolves at various athletic events. “In Stony Brook, I am very vocal at the games because not enough people do it,” mentioned Neto. “In Angola, people at soccer games go crazy and insane. I just wanted to carry the spirit and cheer for our teams.”
With the past season being his senior year, Neto’s departure will be a heavy loss for Stony Brook.
“I wish I had him for four years,” replied Pikiell. “He certainly has started this year off on the right track. I wish I had a team of Emanuels.”
“I want the team to have a winning season,” replied Neto. “The coaches, the team, and the school deserve it. Some of the guys on the team have been here for awhile and they have never had a winning season. I want them to know how it is to have a winning season.”
While his basketball career may be over at Stony Brook, Neto is again expected to be a part of the Angolan National Team, this time in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Angola has been drawn in Group B, which includes the United States, along with Olympic host, China.