ORLANDO – Braian Angola is reminded daily by his fellow countrymen and women – both on social media and in person while he’s in uniform – just how incredibly proud they are of him.
Hearing the cheers and support from his fans motivates Angola, the first Colombian-born player in NBA history who previously starred at Florida State for two seasons before joining the Orlando Magic’s summer league squad last July.
Every time he takes the court now for the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s G League affiliate who are currently in first place in the Eastern Conference, the 6-foot-7, 195-pounder uses that encouragement as fuel.
Being in Central Florida has substantially grown his fan base, too, considering there are many others originally from Colombia living in the area.
“It’s unbelievable how many people from Colombia support me,” Angola said. “Landing in Orlando is a really, really important thing for me because of the fan base that I have. The Colombian fan base is unbelievable.”
“The kids that admire me, texting me on Instagram and Facebook every day telling me how proud they are of me and they want to be like me, that has made me very proud of myself,” he added.
Angola made a good impression, not just on Colombians but Magic fans in general, when he was in Orlando during the preseason. Although he only appeared in two of the Magic’s five exhibition games, the 24-year-old seemed to fit in well. His length, defensive tenacity and outside shooting touch was on display for those couple of weeks.
“It helped me a lot,” he said about his time in Orlando for training camp and the preseason. “Just to get used to the speed of the game, learn some concepts of the game. Basically the same thing we are doing here they are doing out there so being out there for training camp helped me a lot.”
In Lakeland, where he continues to polish up his skills and gain more confidence, Angola has shown to be one of the more versatile players in the entire G League.
In a recent win against the Long Island Nets, he filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, four steals and two blocks. A few games earlier against the Maine Red Claws, Angola flirted with a triple-double with 10 points, 10 boards and seven dimes.
Angola, who didn’t know English when he first moved to the U.S. as a teenager, played his high school ball at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. He then played two seasons at North Idaho College before transferring to Florida State, where in his first year he teamed up with Magic forward Jonathan Isaac.
Not getting drafted certainly didn’t discourage him from chasing his dreams and following his passion. Like many of his Lakeland teammates, Angola is as resilient as they come, and that has helped his new team bond quickly and race to the top of the G League standings.
“We are playing more as a team right now,” he said. “Everybody is playing their roles, playing together. The team is showing that we are capable of beating really good teams and playing at a really high level.”