A New Bedford woman is getting the opportunity to showcase her basketball skills on the world stage.

The growth of international basketball is considerable in 2021, with 213 member nations taking part in the Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur, more commonly known as FIBA. Allexia Barros, a member of the Cape Verde National Team, has been part of that growth for the past few years.

Barros just returned from a thrilling qualifying tournament for Women's Afrobasket 2021 in the Republic of Guinea, a coastal country in West Africa.

"The total experience was just amazing," Barros said. "We fought hard the first game, but we lost by one point, 65-64. In our second game, we came out blazing. We felt more confident, and we really believed in ourselves, that we can beat this team – and we did just that!"

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As a kid, Barros started playing basketball at her United Front home, and from her passion, smarts, strength and willingness to practice extensively, moved on to playing at the New Bedford Boys and Girls Club and then later as a standout at New Bedford High, graduating in 2012. From there, she went on to play at Community College of Rhode Island before moving on to the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, and now is a world-class athlete.

Courtesy Allexia Barros and FIBA

Barros recalled when her dad coached her and her brother in one of those housing project summer leagues, but today, her extended family consists of the members of Cape Verde's national team, who are feeling the elation of just beating their opponent, host team Guinea, and making Cape Verde the first team to qualify for the 2021 Women's Afrobasket tournament September 17-26 in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.

To say Barros and her teammates are excited to return in September for the finals is an understatement. But travel today is very expensive, so her team needs support from the community to raise funds through selling their apparel and other means.

For some, days of athletic glory stay in their rearview but Barros just keeps getting better and better.

"Basketball is everything," she said. "It's really big in my family, and as I grow older and older, it becomes even more of my life."

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