Aquira DeCosta Hoping To Add Gold To Bronze
If friends, family or fans are looking to find Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary’s H.S./Stockton, Calif.), they would be best served by searching for her at the nearest basketball gym.
“When I don’t have practices and stuff, I’m still training,” said the 6-foot-2, forward. “I’m a gym rat. Worn out? I get like sore, but not tired of being in the gym.
“I love the competition and how everyone comes together to play the game that we love.”
Currently the gym in which she is playing is at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where DeCosta is one of 12 players selected from 139 hopefuls to represent the USA at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship that will be played June 22-July 2 in Zaragoza, Spain.
It will not be DeCosta’s first time playing for the United States. She won a bronze medal with the 2015 USA Women’s U16 National Team last summer at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Puebla, Mexico.
Unfortunately, DeCosta and her teammates fell short of their goal when they lost to Brazil in the semifinals, knocking them out of the gold medal game. The team rebounded to beat host Mexico for a bronze medal. DeCosta is one of two members of the 2015 team that were selected to the 2016 USA U17 World Championship Team.
“Disappointment, because we got bronze,” DeCosta responded when asked what she remembers from 2015. “All of us wanted gold so bad. So, then now, me and Sedona (Prince), since we are the only returners from last year, we are really trying to get better at what we do and win gold.
“I learned to never get down on yourself, because that will only make things worse,” she added.
DeCosta returned to California and averaged 15.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game as a sophomore in 2015-16 to help her team to a 28-1 record and the California Interscholastic Federation Open Division regional semifinals.
“My sophomore season was a lot better than my freshman season, because I was more of a leader towards my teammates.”
For a team that had won the CIF Open Division state title in 2015, falling short of that was an unhappy outcome to a season that saw DeCosta named as a 2016 Naismith High School All-America honorable mention.
“It was very disappointing. We thought we could have had that game. But, like it was in Mexico, we fell short. There is nothing you can do about it.
“Of course a loss is still going to sting, because you are always going to think, what if this happened and what if that happened. So, it still stings, but I always work on my game and focus on that.”
There are a few specific areas where DeCosta would like to get better.
“During my off season, I’ve been working on my mid-range and long-range game and rebounding,” she explained. “So, hopefully it will help the team out a lot.
“It’s my goal to be the best. I think that is everyone’s mindset, to be the best that they can be.”
She also hopes that her and Prince’s experience from 2015 will help the team.
“My role on this team is to be a leader, because I was here last year, and I know how it is and how the competition is,” DeCosta said. “We told them how it feels and that we don’t want that feeling again. They understand that, and we are all working together to win gold.”
Wearing USA on her chest at times feels like a weight on her shoulders DeCosta said, but it is one she is grateful to carry.
“It is a lot on my back, so I just have to represent and play my best,” she said. “It is a lot of focus mentally and physically. Don’t let any outsiders get to you; you just have to focus on that one thing.
“To win gold.”Follow DeCosta and the USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team at usab.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/usabasketball or #USABWU17.