Dantas played for Brazil in the 2010 FIBA World Championships, and was MVP in the under-19 World Championships a year later. She was on Brazil’s team in the 2012 London Olympics.
Perhaps more important is what Dantas has been through. She grew up in a difficult neighborhood. Her mother died when she was 9, leaving behind Dantas and her two sisters, one of whom deals with cerebral palsy. “I do everything for her,” Dantas said.
The three sisters were raised by an aunt and uncle.
“I was raised by a wonderful family who always supported me in everything,” Dantas said. “I have two sisters I love. I don’t know how I [got over] the death of my mother. But I am and always will be strong. It’s my motto. I know she is very proud of her daughters.”
For Dantas, basketball was a way out. At 13, she was recommended to Janeth Arcain, the former Brazilian star who was a part of the Houston Comets dynasty in the WNBA’s early years. Arcain runs a basketball training center in Sao Paulo. Dantas applied, was accepted and began her quick ascension in the game.
A ‘new family’
Foul = Falta
Fastbreak = Contra-ataque
Just about everybody on the Lynx knows what Dantas is going through, living in a strange country, not knowing the language. Anyone who has played overseas — most Lynx do over the winter — can relate.
“You sit there and your teammates laugh,” McCarville said. “You want to giggle a little bit, but you don’t know what’s going on. She’s good.”
Dantas’ personality is already coming through. Already she has made it known that she thinks Seimone Augustus is muito louco (crazy). McCarville jokes that all she tells Dantas to do is rebote and rapido (rebound and run fast).
The entire team has made a point of including her. The players have all downloaded translation apps to their cell phones.
Dantas already can understand more than she speaks.
And her play shows it.
“My goodness, playing 30-plus minutes?” Reeve said. “A starting role? A day before camp I don’t know if I would have guessed that. Even a week into camp. But she’s been critical for us.”
And she has started feeling at home.
“I feel homesick,” Dantas said. “But my teammates help me. I say that I have a new family here in the U.S.”