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14 July 2015 | in Universiade 2015, Summer FISU World University Games, Basketball

Playing with Holy Spirit


GWANGJU – Gerson do Espírito Santo is a fighter even when he doesn’t play. During the Men’s Basketball bronze medal game against Russia he wasn’t able to sit still, firing up his teammates all the time. A quick breather on the bench didn’t stop him from playing his physical game under the basket. In English his name means holy spirit. It’s the spirit that defines him as a student-athlete.

“The name comes from my dad’s side of the family. I’m a very spiritual person, for me the holy spirit and god is everything. I try to take this to my life, take it as a blessing to my life. Everywhere I go people ask me about my name. I like that because that way I have a chance to talk about god,” explains Santo.

When the Brazilian basketball player moved to the United States of America in 2010 to play for the College of Southern Idaho, language was the biggest obstacle for him. Today he’s fluent in English. He also gained a lot of experience on the court, transferring from Southern Idaho to Colorado State University in 2012 where he majored in liberal arts. With the experience of two years at a Division 1 team he returned to Brazil to play professional basketball in Mogi das Cruzes close to Sao Paolo – and made it on the Universiade roster of his home country where he tries to be as helpful for his team as possible:

“We go together as a team, we’re a family so everybody does what he can to help the team,” says Santo. “Seeing a teammate diving for the ball, seeing a guy going for the rebound, this fills me up. When I’m not playing I can’t just sit on the bench and relax because I’m hyped.”

As a center Santo is an anchor of his team under the basket. When he played in the US he missed a lot of games for his country. Now finally he got the chance to wear the Brazilian jersey at the Summer Universiade in Gwangju and he loves the experience:

“What I love about my team is that we never give up. Those guys never stop,” he says about his teammates. In the bronze medal game Brazil was down by 14 points in the fourth quarter and fought back. In the end they fell short to Russia but they were still winners in Santo’s eyes: “At the end of the day we not always get what we want. But we’re still a family.”


Max Länge (GER), FISU Young Reporter