Joaquim "Kikas" Gomes, a member of Valparaiso University's men's basketball team, was recently selected to play in the 2004 Olympics for his native country of Angola.
A senior from Luanda, Angola, Gomes is one of 12 players from Angola who will compete against the world's best next September in Athens, Greece. Angola earned an automatic berth to participate in the Olympics by defeating Nigeria in the African Championship game.
"The Olympic Games provide the kind of competition that everyone dreams about," Gomes said. "I'm proud to make the Olympic team and especially proud for my people.
"I've talked to my teammates and friends and we all agree that the Olympic Games are the best competition because all the famous sports people are there and I am excited to be around that kind of atmosphere."
Gomes' selection to the Angola team marks the second time he has been chosen to participate in the Olympics. In 2000, prior to arriving for his freshman year at Valpo, he was selected to play for the Angola Olympic Team, but decided to attend VU immediately.
"It was the toughest decision I ever made," Gomes said. "But one of the best decisions I ever made was attending Valpo and I knew it was important to get my college education started."
The only current American college player on the Angola team, Gomes averaged 10 points and four rebounds as a power forward in the African Championships. Some of Gomes' Angolan teammates play professionally in Europe, while others play in Angola.
Following his final season at Valpo, Gomes and his Angolan teammates will train next summer two months prior to the Olympics.
Last season at Valpo, Gomes averaged 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in helping the Crusaders capture the Mid-Continent Conference regular season title and a berth in the NIT.