Onset basketball hits Cape Verde: Three players join new pro league

Jul 14, 2021

Aaron Strothers, Denzel Brito, and Jules Tavares spent their childhoods playing basketball in Onset. 

Now, the three are once again practicing and playing together thousands of miles from their home courts in the new Cape Verde Praia League.

“We dreamed of playing together forever,” Strothers said. “We gonna ball until we fall.”

Getting to play in Cape Verde is especially significant for the three men, all of whom are Cape Verdean. 

Strothers and Brito played on the country’s national team in 2013, while this is Tavares’ first visit to the islands. 

“It’s our homeland,” Brito said. 

The three are playing six days a week, so they haven’t done too much exploring beyond the city of Praia, but Strothers said they have a good feel for the city. Brito’s family members have shown them around, as have the players who are from Cape Verde.

Strothers and Tavares started playing on the same team in the league before officials decided that would give them an unfair advantage.

“If we were on the same team, it would be kind of crazy because we have all that chemistry from playing together in Onset,” Strothers said.

Strothers and Tavares ended up being on opposing teams for their first game in Cape Verde. Strothers scored the first two points of the game — then Tavares scored three.

“We got to play against each other at a professional level, which is really cool,” Strothers said. “We play against each other all the time at the park.”

This is Tavares’ first time playing basketball professionally.

“It’s a great experience to be playing with some of my boys back home,” said Tavares.  He was an integral part of Wareham High School’s 2010 state championship win, scoring 25 of the team’s 80 points to New Leadership’s 57.

Tavares said he hopes to continue to play professionally.

Brito played basketball at Loyola University before going on to play professionally in Cape Verde and Germany.

Strothers played at Merrimack College before playing professionally in Cape Verde and Costa Rica. More recently, he’s worked extensively as a coach. Currently an assistant coach at UMass Dartmouth, Strothers also volunteers with the Wareham Junior Basketball Association, and organizes weekly pick-up games in Onset.

“Off the court, we’re together all the time,” Strothers said — the three are even living in the same house in Cape Verde.

Asked about goals for the season, Strothers said, “We’re all competitive, so we’re trying to get that championship.” 

But beyond the competition, he said, the three are trying to enjoy the experience and help each other.

“We want each other to be successful,” Strothers said.

Tavares and Strothers said they also want to show kids in Onset that there is a whole world outside Wareham.

Every Praia League game is livestreamed on Youtube, so it’s easy for family and friends back home to follow along with the action. 

The league’s debut season is only a month long due to complications of the coronavirus pandemic, but organizers hope to extend to a five or six-month season like the professional leagues in Europe. The Praia League has six teams, each representing a different part of the city.

For more information about the league, go to www.praialeagueofficial.com. To watch livestreamed or past games, search for “Praia League” on Youtube.