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Author Topic: § African Tournaments, News, Stories & Events • Competencias, Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano  (Read 139095 times)
BGA Sandra Mirsov
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 11, 2013, 06:57:34 AM »

African Tournaments, News, Stories &  Events • Competencias, Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

A minute of silence for Mandela


Julio Chitunda's African Message
"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers."

This impressive speech is my immediate answer when I am asked about my memories of Nelson Mandela who passed away at the age of 95 last Thursday, 5 December, at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mandela spelt out and shared this speech on a number of occasions because he firmly believed that sport is a tool capable of ironing out differences,
cracking down on segregation and bringing people of all backgrounds together.

As an example of Mandela's passion for sports, he was last seen in public during the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in his native South Africa, the biggest sporting event staged on the continent.

Mandela was a sports lover and a keen basketball supporter. He had publicly met and discussed African basketball with representative of Basketball without Borders (BWB) several times.

I am dedicating this week's column to share with you how members of the global basketball family reacted to the passing of Mandela, a natural fighter who believed in forgiveness.

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What follows is what I call "A Minute of Silence for Mandela".

Nelson Mandela was one of the most powerful and inspirational leaders in the world and a great friend of the NBA.  He led his nation to democracy at incredible personal sacrifice, and in rebuilding it, he understood how to harness the power of sport to inspire and unite people of all backgrounds.  Our thoughts and hopes are with the Mandela family and the people of South Africa, and while we mourn his passing, we know that his legacy and quest for equality will endure.'
In this AP photograph from Ball Is Life presented by #eBAStatsGroup #BasketballStatistics Analysis .
Photograph: Ball Is Life



USA forward LeBron James: "His words, his mind will live on forever. In his 95 years, he was able to do some unbelievable things, not just for South Africa but for the world. You hate to lose a pioneer and a great, but what they leave behind means more than anything, and I think what Nelson Mandela will leave behind is more than himself. It's going to going to live on forever like Martin Luther King and some of the other greats that have come and gone. It's a sad day for his family, but I think for us to all be in this position to see what he meant for the world means everything."

NBA Commissioner David Stern: "Nelson Mandela was one of the most powerful and inspirational leaders in the world and a great friend of the NBA. He led his nation to democracy at incredible personal sacrifice, and in rebuilding it, he understood how to harness the power of sport to inspire and unite people of all backgrounds. Our thoughts and hopes are with the Mandela family and the people of South Africa, and while we mourn his passing, we know that his legacy and quest for equality will endure."

Pau Gasol, Spain international and UNICEF Ambassador tweeted: "Thankful to @NelsonMandela for having shown us so much wisdom and leadership. His legacy and example will always stay with us. RIP #Madiba."

Former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar followed suit: "Nelson Mandela was a great man. A bright light has gone out. His ability to lead & inspire are unparalleled in my lifetime."

"Tireless worker, true leader and such a great example for Africa and the World. Thanks #Madiba," is how Congolese-born Spain international Serge Ibaka remembered Mandela.


The tribute paid to Mandela on basketball courts around the world, in the past few days, is everything 'Madiba' dreamed of and fought for: RESPECT.


 Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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HBC Brian Denver
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« Reply #14 on: Jan 08, 2013, 05:27:19 AM »

African Tournaments, News, Stories &  Events • Competencias, Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Individual success versus Team's success

It is time for African nations to start showing how the past three decades have been a turning point in the continent's  history.

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Africa, and the game's quality keeps improving visibly.

There are currently more African  competing at world tournaments than there were 30 years ago, when only one or no  participated.

The FIBA  World Cup, a 24 men's teams event, featured three African teams at its last edition in 2010, one more than 20 years ago.

The 16- FIBA  for Women includes the winners and runner-ups of each Afrobasket.

The U19 world tournaments, previously known as FIBA World Championship for Juniors, have seen African participation increase to two teams (women) since the 2005 event - held in  - while two men's teams joined the event as far back as 1991.

When African  succeed in the most competitive leagues in the world - such as the NBA, the Euroleague - or become leaders in scoring, assists, rebounds or blocked shots at international events, it's almost inevitable to ask "what if they succeed as a team?". No doubt basketball is a team game, but it is also true that, occasionally, individual skills boost teams’ success.

There are only two world stage tournaments this year - the FIBA U19 World Championships for Men and for Women. The men's event will take place in the Czech Republic (27 June-7 July) while the women's will be held in Lithuania (18-28 July).

In fact, these are two challenges for African teams to transform the success of individuals into that of the team.

Later this year, , Mali and Ivory Coast will be the teams representing Africa at the U19 tournaments.

Senegal and Ivory Coast's men will play in the Czech Republic while Senegal and Mali's women will play in Lithuania.

These countries will find out their preliminary rounds' opponents next week when the draws are held.

Here is a "snapshot" of how African teams have done in the past and which players have stood out for them, focusing on U19 and junior tournaments.

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At the 1993 FIBA World Championship for Junior Women, the Democratic Republic of Congo finished with a 1-6 record in Seoul, Korea thanks to a 74-70 win over China.


Comets forward Hamchetou Maiga-Ba dribbles past New Zealand's Clare Bodensteiner for two of her 18 points in Saturday's game. Photograph by WNBA

That was before 17-year-old Mwadi Mabika - who averaged 13.4 points per game - attracted the attention of the WNBA´s Los Angeles Sparks' scouts.

Four years later in Natal, Brazil, Mali registered a 2-5 record thanks to wins over Argentina and Japan, with Hamchetou Maiga averaging 11 points per game.

In 2005, tournament hosts  finished winless, but their center Selma M'Nasria was the tournament's leading rebounder with 12.3 boards per game.

Two years later, Naignouma Coulibaly replicated M'Nasria's feat, averaging 15.2 rebounds, despite her Mali team finishing with a 1-4 record.

In 2009, Tunisia won only one of their five games, but Lilian Inoubli was the second leading scorer with 15.8 points, behind Australian star Liz Cambage.

At the same tournament, Malian Ouleymatou Coulibaly grabbed 11.5 rebounds per game, more than any other player, but her national team won only a game.

At the latest edition of the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, held in Chile in 2011, Egypt lost all four games, but only Brazilian Damiris Dantas scored more points than Hagar Amer who averaged 19.3 points per game.

The men's history is not much different.

Thirty years ago, at the second FIBA World Championship for Junior Men, Angola won only one of their seven games (a 84-61 victory over Canada). José Carlos Guimarães, the current head coach of Angola's senior men's national team, was the third leading scorer in that tournament with 26.7 points per game.

In 1987, Nigeria did not win a single game, but no other player scored more points than Lawal Garba who averaged 23 points per game.

I was fortunate to have watched the 1999 FIBA World Champioship for Junior Men, held in Portugal, and witnessed one of the most successful campaign for African youth teams as Nigeria registered a 3-5 record and Egypt went 4-4.

That 16-team tournament catapulted world stars Andrei Kirilenko, Juan Carlos Navarro, Pau Gasol, Hector Romero and Australian David Andersen.

The African success came with Nigerian Olumid Oyedeji who dominated the boards in the tournament, averaging 13 rebounds per game.

Four years later, Nigeria improved to a 4-4 record while Angola won three of their eight games as Milton Barros ranked fourth best in scoring with 22.1 points per game.

Angolan Miguel Kiala went on to become the 2009's event's top rebounder with 13.6 boards per game despite his national team finishing with a disappointing 1-5 record.

Two years ago, Assem Ahmed averaged 18.5 points per game and Egypt finished 1-7. He ranked third in scoring, and second in rebounding behind Lithuania's Jonas Valanciunas.

Last year, at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Awa Keita finished second in rebounds with 10.1 boards per contest and Mali (1-6) strenghted its African powehouse position.


With such a record, it should be legitimate to ask for medals, or at least higher-places from African teams. It is time for African teams to capitalise on their individual talents.


 Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #13 on: Nov 30, 2012, 02:11:16 AM »

African Tournaments, News, Stories &  Events • Competencias, Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Why short-term contracts damage progress

For some, the autumn is the ideal time of the year to start outlining personal and corporate objectives for the upcoming year.

In basketball, especially in the national ’ competitions, things are not much different.

And head coaches’ positions are often a priority.

Last week,  Basketball Federation (FEB) President Jose Luis Saez revealed he intended on deciding in two weeks the continuity, or not, of Sergio Scariolo, the head coach of Spain’s men’s , 10 months before the 2013 EuroBasket.

A couple of weeks ago, President Umar Tijjani of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) told me that they are receiving and evaluating CVs of potential head coaches to lead their national teams.

However, looking at the 2013 African basketball agenda, it suggests that some national federations are planning too, but when are they going to make final decisions and seal agreements?

Let me share with you my view on the short-term agreements, particularly in the African context.

As things stand, it looks like the old philosophy of signing head coaches on a temporary basis for an  event - usually for a period of two to three months - is to prevail, which I believe is a failed option.

It is difficult to implement a team chemistry and mindset in such a short period of time.

Historically, very few head coaches have achieved African glory under such short-term agreements.

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Spanish-born French head coach Jose Ruiz led Mali's women’s team to the 2007 Afrobasket title, two months into his contract.




He argues that he succeeded because he knew and scouted most of the France-based Malian  who formed the national team’s backbone. “Otherwise”, he said, it was almost impossible to build a team without knowing the .

This is why longer terms agreements mean higher chances to succeed.

The Ivory Coast Basketball Federation (FIBB), the hosts of the 2013 Afrobasket, were aware of this predicament earlier this year when they signed head coach Christophe Denis of France.

Denis coaches French team Paris Levallois. He had an initial training camp with the Ivory Coast national team early in the year.

Short-term contracts may appear to save money, but can be very costly.

For reasons that only Angolan Basketball Federation (FAB) knows, it decided last year not to extend the contract of Luis Magalhães, a man who had helped the country  Afrobasket 2009.

Instead FAB confirmed Frenchman Michel Gomez in May 2011 with the objective of winning the Afrobasket, three months later.

The move did not work out and Gomez was sacked midway through the  with Angola going on to lose to Tunisia in the Final.

Nevertheless, Gomez’s abilities should not be questioned.

A year later, FAB seemed to have learned from the past and signed former Angola international José Carlos Guimarães, an agreement that may last up to the end of next year’s Afrobasket.

This past summer, although he had agreed terms in March, Frenchman Michel Perrin only started coaching Mali's women’s team 10 days before the FIBA  Qualifying Tournament for Women.

The 2011 Afrobasket bronze medallist lost both group  to France and Canada, and Perrin is still waiting to hear whether he remains with the team.

Tunisia’s Adel Tlatli is the longest serving head coach in African basketball.

He first took over in 2001, but remained in the charge for only five months.

Tunisia's Basketball Federation (TBFF) reappointed him in April 2004 and he has been in charge ever since.

His continuing work with the men’s team has gone from strength to strength. After missing out on qualification to the 2003 Afrobasket, Tunisia finished eighth in 2005, sixth in 2007, third in 2009 and they won gold in 2011 to qualify for the London .

Coach Tlatli had just landed in Tunis, from Cairo, Egypt - where he attended the 2012 FIBA Africa Congress - when we discussed the “short term contract culture” in African basketball.

“(In Cairo) I spoke to some officials about the issue, and some say that they can’t afford to sign a coach on long term basis,” Tlatli said.

For Tlatli “signing short term contracts is not a workable option because there is nothing a coach can do in a very short period of time.”

“I have built this team (Tunisia's men’s team), and I keep working with most of the players I helped develop since they were 19,” he explained.

Clearly, it is a fact that many basketball programmes in Africa depend on their central government's annual’s budgets.

But, with the rising number of multi-national firms heading to the African emerging market, there is no reason for basketball to remain unfunded.

If there are no government funds, then let private investors join in.

For instance, Tanzania and Oklahoma City Thunder big man Hasheem Thabeet this year hosted a training camp in his native Dar es Salaam, a successful event sponsored by Coca-Cola, which showed that in order to end the inability to fund basketball programmes, marketing may become a helpful solution.


Talent and basketball passion are unquestionable in Africa. Successful teams need stability, consistency and good marketing.

Surely, the tendency  fast results does not come from short-term contracts.


 Julio Chitunda from FIBA


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« Reply #12 on: Sep 05, 2012, 05:37:24 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Time to see who will wear Ndong’s shoes in ACB

As far as I can remember, no other African player has ever achieved as much success in Spain's ACB league in a short period of time as Senegal's Boniface Ndong.

In just three seasons with the Spanish champions FC Barcelona, Ndong collected a remarkable 11 titles, including one Euroleague crown, two ACB titles, two Copa del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups and three Catalan leagues.

Nevertheless in early August, the 2005 Afrobasket MVP accepted a new challenge and left the club through the front door.

He leaves behind his charisma, respect as well as admiration from colleagues, directors and fans, who affectionately called him “Boni”.

The 35-year-old has agreed a one-year contract with Turkish giants Galatasaray, after a number of Spanish clubs - including Real Madrid - showed interest in signing him. Instead he chose Istanbul as his next home.

The change means there will be no Euroleague competition for Ndong in 2012-2013, but with his new team he has the opportunity to battle in the Eurocup, a trophy missing in his collection.

Only time will tell if he can repeat his achievements in Istanbul. The seven-footer still seems to be as fit as ever and averaged 9.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest in the ACB last season, during which he was named game MVP on two occasions.

Theoretically his achievements have become a record for African players in the ACB to beat. It is a challenge that seems hard to overcome but not impossible.

London Olympians Salah Mejri of Tunisia and Nigerian international Ekene Ibekwe have just joined ACB teams Blusens Mobus and Lagun Aro GBC respectively and they seem capable of competing for trophies.

These two players, like Ndong, bring international experience to their new teams as both have played professionally around Europe, before landing in Spain.

Mejri played two seasons with Belgium's Antwerp Giants, while Ibekwe comes from German club BBC Bayreuth, after having played in Israel, France and Turkey.

Clearly, Ndong’s achievement results from international experience in Russia, USA, France and Germany.

From the individual technical perspective, Mejri and Ibekwe are not much different than the Senegalese. The Tunisian is known for his shot-blocking effectiveness and the Nigerian enjoys playing over the rim, playing tough and fast.

Blusens Mobus and Lagun Aro GBC could be good starting points to stardom for both players, much in the way that Malaga Unicaja was for Ndong five years ago.

Mejri and Ibekwe are not Africa's only players in the ACB as Senegal will still have a presence in the league through Mouhamed Saer Sené, Michel Diouf (both Fuenlabrada) and Sitapha Savane (Joventut Badalona).

The African contingent is also represented by Alhaji Mohammed (Blancos Valladolid) from Ghana and Charles Ramsdell (Assignia Manresa) of Madagascar.

It is now time to see which African player will wear Ndong’s shoes in the upcoming ACB season.

Although he has had success in Spain, he has never hidden the ambition of winning an Afrobasket title with Senegal.

Ndong played the tournament on two occasions (2005 and 2009) and missed out on the 2006 FIBA World championship.

He often publicly criticised his country's basketball federation for alleged lack of adequate planning in order to succeed.

However, Ndong was really close to lifting his first African title at the 2005 Afrobasket in Algeria, but Senegal fell short, losing to Angola 70-61 in the Final.

Eventually he was consoled with the tournament's MVP title.

In 2009, he gave what might have been his last shot with Senegal, at the Afrobasket held in Libya, but his country finished seventh.

He still has a chance to win an African title as Senegal secured qualification to next year’s Afrobasket.

But, should he miss the 2013 African showdown, Ndong would probably be disappointed as he admitted in an interview with FIBA’s Jeff Taylor in 2008: “It would be sad for my career if we didn’t win it,” he confessed at the time.




Certainly, should Ndong win a Eurocup with his new club it will be a cherry on the top of the cake, although the Afrobasket title will be stuck in his throat.

Thus, I just wish Ndong a happy 35th birthday completed on 3 September.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #11 on: Jul 31, 2012, 05:09:41 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

A record African Olympians

At a first glance Angola women, Nigeria and Tunisia men are the only African flag bearers at the 2012 Olympics basketball tournament.

Let me just say they are not alone.

I dare to say this year’s Olympic seem to be a celebratory moment of African basketball in London as players come together representing all parts of the globe

There will be so many Africans playing at the basketball Olympic tournament, a record in fact, that Great Britain key player Luol Deng hails from South Sudan.

Historically the African continent has never had such a large representation at the event as it has this year.

For the first time, since the 1988 Seoul Games, three African nations will play at the same event, although African women first joined the tournament at the 1996 Atlanta Games with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Beyond the 36 players representing Angola, Nigeria and Tunisia, a lot more players eligible to represent African nations will be showing their skills in London wearing European, USA, Canadian and the Australian uniforms.

When California-born Nigerian international Ade Dagunduro told me last week that he was just one of more than 200 million people with Nigerian ancestry eligible to play for the country, I thought that his was not an isolated case.

In fact this year’s Olympics bring individuals eligible to play for Ghana, South Sudan, Benin, Senegal, DRC, Cameroon, Mali and Republic of Congo.

Curiously, only few of those countries are regulars at Afrobasket tournaments.

So, like many others USA stardom Andre Iguodala is a native of Illinois and descent of Nigeria, and he could well fit in head coach Ayo Bakare’s roster.

London-born Eric Boateng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu have roots in Ghana, and will be playing for Great Britain (GB).

Three women have Nigerian ancestry including Australian London-born Liz Cambage, Canadian Natalie Achonwa and Great Britain promising center Temi Fagbenle.

Therefore, as some African countries struggle to develop basketball facilities and programmes many players are left with no other choice, but representing their adoptive countries at world stage tournaments.

For instance, South Sudan-born Deng grew up in London, and he is a key-member of GB team.

Spain’s Serge Ibaka first represented his native Republic of Congo at the age of 17, at the 2006 FIBA Africa U18 Championship played in Durban, South Africa.

France point-guard Yannick Bokolo hails from DRC.

In other hand Frenchwomen Isabelle Yacoubou and Emilie Gomis were born in Republic of Benin and Senegal, respectively.

The list is vast, and it suggests how popular basketball is among Africans wherever they are based.

Unsurprisingly many of those players are world top-ranked with great vision to develop basketball programmes in Africa.

Chicago Bulls star Deng is a regular with the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) programme.

Frenchmen Boris Diaw and Yakhouba Diawara whose roots take them to Senegal and Mali, respectively were BWB mentors.

Africans often tend to treat their descendents as their own, and the 2011 EuroBasket silver medallist Frenchman Nicolas Batum, a son of a former Cameroonian professional basketball player, is widely admired in streets of Yaoundé.




I asked host Deng about his thoughts on this record presence of African playing at the Olympics, and he said he was “proud of them, and proud to see the basketball is moving in the right direction in Africa.”

In the end with such a large number of African players taking part at this year’s Olympics there are surely increased chances of seeing at least some reaching the podium.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #10 on: Jul 17, 2012, 05:00:58 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Yes, Africa can !

Last week's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men (OQTM) should be celebrated as a new chapter in the basketball history thanks to the performances of two African teams, especially with Nigeria qualifying for the Olympic Games.

The D’Tigers, as Nigeria national team are commonly known, will play their first Olympic tournament, after winning three of their five games played over the course of six days.

On Sunday, the last day of the OQTM, they beat Dominican Republic 88-73 to claim the last berth for the London Games.

This is a success that few predicted but the Nigerian players always believed.

Now they join 2011 Afrobasket champions Tunisia at the Olympics as Africa representatives.

The last time the African continent had two teams at an Olympic tournament was back in 1988, at the Seoul Games, when the Central African Republic and Egypt were the African flag bearers.

The 2011 Afrobasket bronze medallist Nigeria not only successfully made it to London, but convincingly denied the European dominance with two remarkable wins over Lithuania and Greece.

Additionally, Angola’s win over The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD) and a reasonable showdown against Russia should not be overlooked.

The Russians, though, was the African teams’ black sheep with two wins over both Angola and Nigeria.

Unlike many predictions, these two African teams qualified for the Quarter-Finals, after finishing second in Groups B and D respectively of the OQTM.

They combined for four victories in seven games, drastically improving the African participation from what it had been at the 2008 OQTM when it ended winless.

These two African teams, and especially Nigeria left a clear message: Yes, Africa can.

More than achieving the highest moment of African basketball, the Nigeria national team confirmed to the world stage the so-often claimed basketball talented nation accolade.

Nigeria is drawn in Group A of the 12-team Olympic tournament along with the USA, Argentina, Tunisia, France and Lithuania.

Nigeria’s performance at the OQT translates into a serious statement of a team that was not only satisfied in participating and learning from a world stage tournament.

Instead, they showed that they can compete, win and be dominant.

Of course this is an improved team compared to the one that played at last year’s Afrobasket.

With the likes of brothers Al-Farouq and Alade Aminu, Ade Daganduro, Tony Skinn, Ike Diogu, Derrick Obasohan and Co, this Nigeria team had no other option but to do well.

Nigeria now enjoys a positive record against European nations.

From defeats to France and Germany in 2006, they now count three wins - including last week's triumphs over Lithuania and Greece - and the 2006 FIBA World championship 82-75 win over Serbia and Montenegro.

Coach Ayodele Bakare successfully added a lot of quality into the squad.

Attracting these players to join the national team was the first hurdle Bakare successfully cleared.

I am sure that Bakare was extremely persuasive, something that does not surprise me. After various conversations with him, I was entirely convinced that this team was going to be successful sooner or later.

“That should be a good surprise, don’t you think?” he said to me when I asked him, early this year before the OQTM draw was announced, whether his team was able to beat the European opposition and make it to London.

Then he gave his predictions of the three teams to qualify to the Olympic: “Lithuania, Greece and Nigeria, for sure,” he said at the time.

He failed on his prediction of Greece, a team that he helped to eliminate.

His confidence started since the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) drew up their OQTM preparation programme.

In the document that I accessed they called it ROAD MAP TO 2012 OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT.

That document clearly spelled out Nigeria's Olympic intentions.

One paragraph, for instance, says: “It is our firm belief that with the abundance of talented players which Nigeria will have available at that time, combined with adequate preparation and training, plus exposure of the team to high level friendly games we will do the country proud at the Olympics.”

Had Nigeria failed to qualify to the Olympics, the NBBF's credibility would have had to be put at stake. Now, perhaps it is time to break up with the past and turn the federation into an innovative institution.

This OQT saw African teams produce their best performances in global tournaments and proved some stereotypes wrong.

Beside the athleticism, both Angola and Nigeria played smartly with a lot of ferocity and proved that they can compete against the top national teams.

In fact, this OQTM transformed African basketball’s image.

Here are some quotes of African teams’ opponents, before and after the tournament.

MKD forward Vlado Ilievski said before the tournament: “They run, they are athletic, but I don’t think they have the technical skills the European teams have.”

His teammate Pero Antic, had a complete different view after a 88-84 loss to Angola: “They are a good team and they deserved to win,” he said.

MKD head coach Marjan Lazovski said after the OQTM draw was announced: “We have a good chance for the Olympics because we have opponents that we can beat.

“We know what we need to worry about New Zealand...Angola and Korea were the other teams we wished for before the draw.”

MKD were knocked out in the Quarter-Finals by the Dominican Republic.

Russia’s influential player Andrei Kirilenko revealed his thoughts on Nigeria, after a 85-77 Semi-Final win: “Give credit to Nigeria as they fight till the end [of the game]. They are a very good team.”

What African teams have shown is that there isn't one African basketball playing style. Instead there are different ways to interprate games and different ways to execute a plan. For instance, it is pointless trying to associate the Tunisian playing style with that of Chad or Togo.

Three wins and two losses - both to Russia - should be encouraging rather than disappointing.

Despite some relative success by Angola in the past, this year’s OQT was probably the best African appearance on a global stage.

The Greek affair

Nigeria out-rebounded Greece in the 80-79 Quarter-Final win, but Greece coach Ilias Zouros emphasised the referee’s job.

Probably it was a shocking reality for Greece who, in the past 20 years, enjoyed an unbeaten record over African teams in competitive tournaments.

A week before the OQT, Greece had beaten Nigeria (88-76) in a warm-up tournament, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Greece’s most recent win over an African team happened at the 2010 FIBA World Championship after trouncing Ivory Coast 97-60.
Before that game, the Greeks had destroyed Angola (102-61) at the 2008 Olympics. Four years earlier, as hosts of the 2004 Olympic Games, they also had beaten Angola (88-56).

Their African demolition dates back to the 1994 FIBA World Championship and a 69-53 win over Egypt. Four years later, as hosts of the FIBA World Championship, they beat Senegal (68-57).

However on July 6, they misfired as Nigeria came bigger and better.

Surely Greece, Lithuania and MKD may have a different perspective on the African teams.

For the Angolans, who will miss out on their first Olympics since 1992, the question is: Will they be able to come back stronger after missing out on the continent gold medal?

Well, past experience shows that after Angola finished third at the 1997 Afrobasket, and missed out the 1998 world championship, they came better than never and won six consecutive African titles (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009).




More than being successful with the qualification to the Olympic Games, Nigerians proved how relevant and crucial the African Diaspora players are to develop the continent’s game.

These two African nations fought hard to confirm that they can do well. It is a remarkable achievement.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #9 on: Jun 18, 2012, 12:14:06 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

A new chapter for Ivory Coast

Nothing could be more indicative of Ivory Coast’s desire to win the 2013 Afrobasket title than them starting their preparation at the current African champions' home.

The Elephants, as they are known, began their four-week training camp in Tunisia as they take aim at next year's Afrobasket which will be held in the Ivorian capital Abidjan. They will later travel to France for the remainder of their preparations.

In Tunisia, the Ivory Coast will play a three-day tournament (23-25 June), taking on Tunisia, Senegal and Belgium.

In his first contact with the team, newly-appointed head coach Frenchman Christophe Denis – who spent his childhood in Abidjan – chose 18 players to join the national team.

Apparently Ivory Coast is seeking to break up with the recent past and return to the glory days of the 1980s, and they see hosting next year’s Afrobasket as a new chapter in their basketball history.

The 1985 title they won as hosts - following a 84-73 defeat of Angola in the Final - is still very clear in the memory of Ivorians.

Bringing back those days has become their main goal.  

One thing that amazes me is the Ivorian desire to do well in August 2013. It is still a long way to go, but so far, everything is going as planned, since Denis’ appointment early this year.

For instance, the Ivoirians are implementing a spirit of togetherness in the team. One of the main points in their preparation programme will be a focus on motivating their players to do well when the tournament tips off.  

Contrary to the way things were done in the past, they are summoning the best Ivorian players based at home and all over the world to get together. They want to know each other as well as the new coach and get known to the general Ivorian public, rather than just having a two-week training camp and playing an international tournament as used to be done previously.

The Ivorians are dreaming big and no one should blame them for it. They hope their more experienced and talented players will deliver success at home.

It is too obvious that the Ivorian Basketball Federation don’t want to be blamed for any hypothetical failure. All they are seeking is to be successful at home after surrendering the organisation of the 2011 Afrobasket due to political turmoil. Madagascar stepped in and hosted the tournament.

When the past come to mind

One of the biggest troubles for some African national teams in recent years has been the inability to bring to the national team their talented players performing in top leagues around the world. Ivory Coast is no different.

Perhaps this has been one of the major differences between 10-time African champions Angola and the most recent champions Tunisia, whose majority of players are either home based or settled in neighbouring countries, and other national teams.

In order to make sure of their players' availability, the Ivorians are shaping the national teams a year before they host Africa's most competitive national team tournament.

Ivory Coast's preparations will not end in July though. They will gather again during the Christmas time for a couple of days of preparation in Abidjan.

With all resources in place, finishing out of the podium will be regarded as failure. Another aim for Denis is to qualify the team to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup to be staged in Spain.

On June 29, some France-born Ivorian internationals will have the opportunity to play against the French national team in Toulouse in what is seen as the highlight of the Elephants' preparations.

Big heart needed

I asked Boubakari Touré, the federation chairman, to give his thoughts of the events. He said: “We want our players to engage with the national team.”

“We want our players to arrange their own agenda in time to represent the country.”

Europe-based players Mouloukou Diabate, Mohamed Kone, Pape Philippe-Amagou, are surely in Denis’ plan to attack African crown.

“One needs a big heart and sacrifice in order to win games, and this is what we will be working on,” Denis told me in April, when I asked him how to turn the Ivory Coast national team into a wining team.  

However if they want to win the championship, they will have to do more than just hosting the tournament. They will have to overcome unstoppable Tunisia.

The African champions last lost a game in African competitions on 14 August 2009, a 79-69 defeat to Angola in Tripoli, Libya.

Since then, they have found the formula to dominate Africa and don’t seem to be interested to give in the continent crown any time soon.

Then there is Angola - Africa's most successful national team in the past 23 years – who are hurting after a 67-56 loss to Tunisia in the Final of last year’s Afrobasket.

The Ivorian task to make their countrymen and women proud will involve doing better than two talented teams, such as Senegal and Nigeria before trying to spoil promising Egypt.

The Ivorian task does not seem to be an easy one and getting their warriors a year before the big moment is surely the right thing to do.




Meanwhile, for those interested to find out more about Denis’ programming here is a list of 18 players invited to join the national team: Yotio Lichel, N'diaye Ismael, Dja konan Patrick, Jean-Baptiste Amenou, Willy Kouassi, Diabaté Souleymane, Pape Philippe Amagou , Cissé Ibrahim, Stéphane Konaté, Ouattara Alpha Yaya, Mohamed Koné, Kéita Ben Ali, Coulibaly Assane, Gnagbo Patrick, Ehui Jean Michel, Wilfried Aka, Hervé Lamizana and Adjehi Baru.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 01:32:53 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Guimarães' Angolan national team challenge

José Carlos Guimarães, the newly-appointed head coach of Angola's Men's National Team, deserves praises for accepting his new role as he is the fifth man to lead the former African champions in just six years.

Guimarães showed boldness by accepting the post, even though, as a former international he had never hidden the desire of coaching his country national team.

In the last six years, Angola have been coached by Alberto Carvalho, Luís Magalhães, Michel Gomez and Jaime Covilhã.

Guimarães is the third national team coach in a year.

Realistically speaking, Angola is not experiencing the best time in its basketball history, and the future seems quite dubious.

In April last year, the Angolan Basketball Federation (FAB) appointed Frenchman Gomez with the intention of keeping him in the job for at least a year and half, had he qualified the team to the 2012 Olympics Games.

Instead, Gomez was sacked midway through the 2011 Afrobasket in Madagascar last summer. His assistant, Jaime Covilhã, took over at the Quarter-Final stages of the tournament and led the team all the way to the Final, where they lost 67-56 to Tunisia and, consequently, missed out on direct qualification to the London Games.

What followed next was what Angolans were not accustomed to: they blamed FAB for the national team failure to win their 11th title. Meanwhile, it sounded surprising for some African countries, who always praised FAB’s planning and organisation.

Covilhã, who had a fantastic introduction as the national team head coach in Madagascar after a thrilling 84-83 Quarter-Final victory over Cameroon, said at the time that his players refused to lose that epic game despite trailing most of contest, and that in his opinion they were the best players in the world.

They were psychologically strong, he said at the time.

Surprisingly when I asked him, three months later (in November of last year) whether he was going to keep the job, he immediately responded that he was not, and he didn’t specify.

Apparently FAB may have not offered him what he wanted.

At the time I thought Covilhã was the right man for the job.

However, Guimarães was confirmed on 19 May in a crucial moment of Angolan basketball and he deserves tribute for it.

To assist him, Guimarães chose Angolan Emanuel Trovoada, a former Cape Verde national team head coach.

The most intriguingly question is how Angolan men will perform at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), an event they have never played.

Now, Guimarães, one of Angola's best players in the late 1980s and 1990s, is handed the tough challenge to revert what seems a difficult moment of Angolan basketball history.

The National League

Just to put things in context, let’s look at how things are running in domestic competitions.

Primeiro D’Agosto, the Angolan men's national team’s main provider, last won the national league two years ago, and re-signed Portuguese Mario Palma - the most successful coach with the national team - and added international 38-year-old Gerson Monteiro to the roster.

With Palma, D’Agosto lost the African Club Championship to Tunisian club Etoile du Sahel.

Last week, before Guimarães’ appointment, D’Agosto lost the national league to Recreativo do Libolo.

And D’Agosto’s national team players under-performed throughout the second phase of the national league.

Preliminary squad

Guimarães has announced his preliminary squad and that includes five Primeiro D’Agosto players, and two from the new champions Libolo, including Olimpio Cipriano and Luis Costa, two internationals who missed last year’s Afrobasket.

In my view, Guimarães’s main priority for now should not be New Zealand nor FYROM, Angolan’s opponents in the first stage of the OQT. Instead he should focus on his new players.

Last year, when I asked Covilhã what profile the national team coach should have, he said whoever was appointed had to be able to motivate, communicate and understand his players.

That answer made me wonder if perhaps a psychologist may also be needed to join Guimarães' coaching staff.

It is early days to assess Guimarães role, even though he has had reasonably success with a minor club, Sporting de Cabinda, and a top-four Angola side, Inter Clube de Luanda.

The coach

As a player Guimarães, was a small forward who represented his country and shone for over a decade, especially at the 1992 Olympics.

He also served as assistant coach at the 2006 FIBA World Championship.




Something he should not be accused of is a lack of international experience.

Hopefully I may be able to catch up with Guimarães in the next few days, and one of my questions will be whether he took over at the right time.

Knowing his public speeches and thinking of a conversation we had five years ago, in which he seemed a very confident man, he probably will answer affirmatively.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2012, 11:51:16 PM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Angola and Botswana battle for U18 African Championships places

By the end of this week, either Angola or Botswana's national teams will secure places for this summer's U18 African Championships for Men and Women, as the regional qualification tournament is underway in the Mozambican capital of Maputo.

The four national teams, the only contenders, are taking part in the African qualification zone VI tournament that started Sunday.

The men’s U18 event will take place in August in Mozambique, while the host country and dates for the women’s are still to be determined.

Whatever the results between Angola and Botswana, in both categories, only one national team will qualify to either African U18 tournament.

These national teams have not beaten their opponents on the floor. In fact, they did what others did not.

They showed up for the African qualification zone VI tournament in Maputo, while seven other national teams (Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, and South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) withdrew.

This story sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately this scenario is becoming regular in African basketball.

Last month, only two out of eight U18 national teams for men and women took part in the African qualification zone IV tournament in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This time, although Mozambique is taking part in the tournament, only Angola and Botswana are competing to qualify.

The host nation is taking the tournament as a preparation as they are already qualified for both U18 African Championships.

Mozambique's men and women both finished third at the 2010 U18 African Championships, which gave them direct qualification for this year’s event.

Either Botswana or Angola will join women’s defending champions Egypt, runners-up Nigeria, bronze medallists Mozambique, fourth-place Mali and zone IV winner Democratic Republic of Congo in the field for the U18 African Championship for Women.

Meanwhile, either Botswana or Angola's men's side will join the defending champions from Egypt, runners-up Tunisia, bronze medallists Mozambique and zone IV winner Democratic Republic of Congo in the men's event.

Botswana and Angola's national teams enjoy different continental status in most basketball categories.

While Angola are the highest-placed African men’s national team in the FIBA Ranking, Botswana struggles to join the continent elite.

Despite the differences, these two countries have in common the desire to give young players a chance to develop their basketball skills and attending this African qualification tournament shows it well.

However, as some African countries seem to be slowing their engagement to basketball, Mozambique, who are 48th in FIBA's Combined Ranking, cannot stop committing to the game.

Their women's national team finished fifth at last year’s Afrobasket, but they accepted to represent Africa at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for Women, replacing bronze medallists Senegal. Fourth-placed Nigeria also turned down the chance of playing for a chance to qualify for the London Olympics.

Fascinated by basketball or not, Mozambique will host this year's U18 African Championship for Men.

All these commitments raised my curiosity, and I decided to find out more.

Francisco Mabjaia, chairman of Mozambique's Basketball Federation, told me why his country does what some African nations turn down.

“The reason we are widely committed to basketball is because Mozambicans love basketball and we can not let our countrymen and women down,” he said.

“Basketball is the second most popular sport in our country, after football."

With all this passion for basketball, I wonder whether this is a message to encourage neighbouring countries to follow in Mozambique’s footsteps.

The reality though is that Mozambique just wants to develop its basketball players’ potential as much as possible.

The country is taking part in the tournament to give its national teams’ players competitiveness and experience.

“Each country has its own reasons, and we are not making judgements on it,” Mabjaia explained.

Hosting a tournament is a challenging task, but Mabjaia refused to show disappointment with the withdrawal of other national teams as they notified them beforehand.

“We have not arranged any logistics or accommodations for them. So there is no financial loss in this regard," he pointed out.

“Quite often we propose friendly tournaments to our neighbouring countries in order to boost our young players’ prospects, unfortunately it is often unsuccessful.

“We are committed to do anything to strength this African region’s potential.”




Until July most U18 African national teams for Men and Women are expected to compete for places at the 2012 U18 African Championship.

African Qualification zone is distributed according to regional location. There are still five other Africa Qualification zones to compete before the U18 Africa Championship in both categories later in the year.

Nevertheless, I am not sure how many national teams will show up to compete in upcoming events, which makes for a bleak scenario for African hopeful players.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #6 on: Apr 18, 2012, 08:05:35 PM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Egyptian Basketball - Past, Present and Future

By the time the 2013 AfroBasket starts in Ivory Coast, it will have been 10 years since Egypt last won a medal at senior level of the African Championship for Men. However, their junior teams are giving the country hope of bringing that drought to an end.

The Pharaohs last won a bronze at the 2003 AfroBasket as host nation.

Since then, Egypt has achieved no better result than a fourth-place finish at the 2007 AfroBasket held in Angola.

They came in 10th in neighbouring Libya at the 2009 AfroBasket, before plunging to 11th at last year’s continental championship in Madagascar, their lowest finish in the country's basketball history.

This may seem a dreadful prospect for the second most victorious country - after Angola - in the history of the FIBA Africa Championship, with five gold medals, five silver and six bronze.

Undoubtedly it is not the most recommended impression of a team with Egypt’s basketball legacy.

However, Egypt is experiencing two different phases in its basketball history.

While the men's senior national team keeps struggling, their youths can’t stop thriving.

Egypt’s future is rather optimistic, if we consider the recent achievements of the country’s juniors.

In recent years, Egypt has dominated African youth tournaments.

In 2008, they won the FIBA Africa U18 Africa championship for Men - as hosts - after a thrilling 85-84 victory over archrivals Angola in Alexandria.

Later this year, Egypt will travel to Mozambique as defending champions at the U18 AfroBasket.

In 2009, they won the FIBA Africa U16 Championship for Men in Mozambique, before successfully defending their title last year at home.

Egypt crushed their opponents with big winning margins, beating Tunisia 117-67 in the Championship Game.

The defending champions booked their place in the Final by destroying Angola 106-41 in the Semi-Final.

Prior to that result, Egypt had smashed Mozambique (108-54), Algeria (94-57), South Africa (101-57) and Congo (128-33).

Mali finished third while Angola finished fourth.

In the end, three Egyptian players - point guards Ehab Saleh, Omar Abdeen and power forward Wessam Melek - made it on the All-Tournament Team, with Algerian forward Ahmed Boutiba and Mozambican center Helton Ubisse completed the team.

Saleh was also named the tournament's MVP.

Egypt U16 men's national team head coach Rafik Youssef could not be more confident about his country's basketball future.

Earlier this month he gave me his impressions of Egyptian basketball.

“The senior national team is not doing as well as it used (to),” Youssef said.

“From my point of view the federation should be courageous to make changes.

“Keeping two or three senior players and give junior players a chance is the most appropriate decision they should make.

“With that change in mind, three years is time enough for Egypt to dominate basketball in Africa.

“After last year’s Africa championship we had a few weeks break, but we are working already for the (2012 FIBA U17) World Championship in Lithuania."

For now, Egyptian youths enjoy the rewards of becoming Africa's most regular representative on the world stage over the past decade.

Two years ago, they represented the continent at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship held in Hamburg, Germany.

In 2009 they represented Africa in New Zealand at the FIBA U19 World Championship and repeated that feat by qualifying to last summer’s event in Latvia.

Yet again, Egypt has qualified to this year’s 12-team FIBA U17 World Championship to be staged in Kaunas, Lithuania, from June 29 to July 8.

“We have a tough group, but we (can) only be satisfied if we make it to the next round," Youssef said.

“I think that three teams in our group will make it to Semi-Final of the World Championship."

Egypt will face Australia, China, Czech Republic, France and USA in Group A of the Preliminary Round.

The top four teams from each Preliminary Round group will advance to the Quarter-Finals.

With such international experience and the export to US colleges of talents like Assem Ahmed (Minnesota State University), Mostafa Abdel Latif (Sacred Heart University) and Omar Oraby (Rice University), I could not agree more with coach Youssef.

There is hope in the country of basketball lovers.

Egypt has hosted six African nations’ tournaments since 1962 and an endless amount of youth African tournaments.




Young Egyptians have now the task of restoring the country’s legacy.

If Egypt’s current position with the senior national team looks rather bleak, its future seems much more optimistic.

With a brilliant past, a doubtful present, Egypt has a bright future.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #5 on: Apr 12, 2012, 05:45:38 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Two of seven only compete in U18 Zone IV qualifier

If you ever wondered why some extraordinary African players compete at top basketball leagues around the world, but whose country of origin are low ranked internationally, I bring you an example of how and why it happens.
 
Firstly, a number of African players are so ambitious to fulfill a dream of playing professionally at high level that they do not fear their country's FIBA world ranking.  
 
By reaching top-flight clubs, they prove it is a matter of opportunity.
 
But most do not have the opportunity they dream of.  
 
For example, last week five Zone IV countries opted out of the qualifying for the FIBA Africa U18 for Men, due to either lack of sponsors or budget to travel to Kinshasa, where the event took place.
 
The FIBA Africa U18 for Men will be staged in Mozambique later this year.
 
Apart from Gabon that is already qualified, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, São Tomé e Príncipe, Chad and Equatorial Guinea did not take part at the qualifying tournament in DR Congo capital Kinshasa.
 
The event was due to last a week starting on 7 April.
 
Instead it will last two days.
 
RD Congo was left no chance but play the remainder Zone IV team, neighbouring Republic of Congo.
 
At the time of writing, both teams were expected to play each other in two games, and one of them would qualify to the finals of the U18 African championship.
 
This means that those missing countries will not be able to show their potential, and potentially affect young players´s hopes.
 
Until June, other African teams will play the qualifying U18 for Men, according to their zone schedule. But if teams keep withdrawing, the future of the game in the continent will be threatened.
 
And yet it will not be surprising if, in a few years time, we see some of those missing countries´players shining among top-leagues, as it happened in the recent past.
 
If we think of Bismack Biyombo and his round the world journey until he landed with his current club, the NBA Charlotte Bobcats. He played in Yemen, Spain before ending in the USA.
 
This case illustrates why good African players opt for representing other countries or simply playing abroad.
 
However, the most ambitious teams will take part at this year FIBA Africa U18 for Men in Mozambique.  
 
Of course federations may not be solo responsible for these circumstances, but when things are planned well in advance there should be no excuse to miss out a competition that enhances not only youth players’ prospective, but the promotion of the country itself.  
 
So, to find out the hidden talented, it will be necessary to wait until they represent another country or jump in a competitive league, raising the usual question. Where was he/she?
 
And the answer to this question should be, he/she sought and found the dream that many are prevented to, as it happened last week in Kinshasa.
 
Nevertheless with the race to secure a place at the FIBA Africa U18 for Men underway I asked Congolese Justine Irung, technical director of Zone IV, what is it like host a tournament with only two teams when they expected at least seven teams to take part.
 
“The level of competition is affected if there are no competitors,” she said.
 
“Only two teams competing are not good enough.
 
“In Central Africa our main difficult is lack of means for transportation.
 
"It is very hard to travel from one country to the other if one has not financial support to do it.
 
“It is not a simple process to travel, for instance, from Kinshasa [DR Congo] to Yaoundé [Cameroon]. It is too expensive.
 
“Solution is pushing for our government to support, at least, youth competition.
 
“Another solution could be some support from FIBA in order to facilitate teams to travel around our competition zones.
 
“Without sponsors, I do not see the game achieving high level of competitiveness, even though we have very athletic and good players. But if there is not a proper program in place, chances are these players will never reach their maximum potential,” the former player said.
 
Ironically, once their dream fulfilled, some neglected players return home and promote something they did not have.




For instance, Belgium international and former LA Lakers center Didier Mbenga runs a basketball college campus for young players in his native DR Congo.
 
“His programme is very helpful for our local schools and youth. He has provided equipments, basketballs and some support,” Irung said about her countryman naturalized Belgium.  
 
Perhaps the future of basketball should be handed to former players who have real passion for the game, in order to support an inspire future players.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #4 on: Mar 09, 2012, 03:09:13 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

NCAA African Madness

March Madness is not just a US collegiate basketball matter. It is an international celebration of the game, especially with the rising number of players born outside the United States who take part.

Africa is no exception. More and more African-born prospect student-athletes have chosen to pursue their sport and educational careers on the other side of the Atlantic.
 
When, in a few days time, 68 collegiate teams from different conferences start competing for a place in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Final Four, a large number of Africans will be involved in the process.
 
There are currently over 400 international student-athletes competing in Division I Men’s Basketball and 80 of them are from Africa, according to the NCAA.
 
However, this figure does not include athletes who hold dual-citizenship. For example, University of Texas point guard Myck Kabongo was born in DR Congo, but he represents Canada.
 
Africans make up the third largest group of international players competing in Division 1 behind Europeans (157 student-athletes) and North America (114 non-US).
 
They are followed by Australians (34), South Americans (20) and Asians (7).
 
Five years ago (2006-07), there were 424 international student-athletes competing in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball, and 88 of those players were from Africa.
 
Africans became madly attracted to the NCAA since international programmes such as Basketball without Borders (BWB) started campaigning and promoting education and sports outside the United States.
 
Cameroonian international and Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute is an example, as he joined the BWB in Johannesburg at the age of 16, before accepting an offer from the  University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) programme.
 
The recruitment process by US colleges outside the country has benefited not only the schools, but the players’ countries of origin.
 
These youths compete against the best prospect players in the world and benefit from learning with experienced head coaches, the best they can get.
 
What makes me really enthusiastic about the rising number of Africa-born players in the NCAA is the fact they are not just quantity. Instead, there is also quality among them.
 
Despite showing some limitations in his offensive game, Louisville University's Senegalese centre Gorgui Dieng is currently one of the top 10 blockers in the NCAA, with 3.2 swats per game.
 
Inspired by NBA African players such as Mbah a Moute, Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka, DeSagana Diop and Christian Eyenga, the new generation of young African players find in the American universities the rare high-education and sports career that their native countries cannot offer.
 
Nigerian Ugo Okam, for instance, is pursuing his education at highly-rated Harvard University.
 
There are players from all corners of Africa, including from countries with low tradition in basketball - Ghana, Uganda and Chad are all represented in Division 1.
 
With 25 players, Nigeria is the most representative country, followed by Cameroon with 15. Senegal and Ivory Coast combine for 19 players.
 
South Africa, Chad and Sudan have three players each, followed by Egypt, Mali, Benin with two apiece, while Guinea-Conakry, Tunisia, Angola, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Uganda have one single representative.
 
I am not the only one advocating sport and education to youth players.
 
Ivory Coast international and Gonzaga University forward Guy Landry Edi agrees: “I believe they play in the NCAA because there is not better system in the whole world where you can play basketball at high level and follow your education at the same time. Especially Africa needs more educated people for the continent to advance. If basketball does not work or you get injured you have your education to be successful in life.”
 
New Mexico State University South African center Tshilidzi Nephawe is one of the 80 African student-athletes.
 
This is what his coach Marvin Menzies said when I asked him about the rising number of African players in the NCAA: “I think (it's) because they are talented. They bring great size and athleticism and discipline. I think all of the players that I’ve had the opportunity to recruit from Africa have also been very coachable. I think culturally they tend to be a self-disciplined and self-motivated type of player.”



 
Davidson University head coach Bob McKillop, who counts with Tunisian Youssef Mejri in his squad said: “Basketball has become a global game. The NCAA is filled with players from International backgrounds. This is also happening in the NBA as players from all continents can be found on rosters.”
 
If federations take considerably attention, some of these young players may be extremely useful at next year AfroBasket, to be staged in Ivory Coast.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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« Reply #3 on: Feb 01, 2012, 03:04:28 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Egyptian big kid seeks Minnesota success

The door is now open for Egyptian Assem Ahmed Marei to make the step up from being a prospect to an established player.

His high-level performance at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia raised fans’ and scouts’ eyebrows, especially on the other side of the Atlantic at Minnesota State University where he has been practicing since arriving in the town of Mankato earlier this month.
 
Although no decision has been taken on his eligibility to play this season for the NCAA Division II team, there are many reasons to believe that he is going to be successful in the US.

For now, this 2.09m (6ft 10in) power forward just wants start playing and show that the Minnesota State Mavericks made the right choice in recruiting him, as he told me.

Does it sound arrogant? No, I don’t think so. It is determination.

In fact, no doubts should be raised about Assem’s potential.

Born in Cairo in June 1992, he learned the beauty of basketball at home, as his father, Ahmed Marei - a former Egypt international-turned engineer and basketball coach - taught him the first tricks of the game.

Assem, as he prefers to be called, confirmed his ability to play the game at successful Egyptian club Zamalek. He then helped Egypt win the U18 African title in 2010 in Rwanda and last year made his appearance on the world stage in Latvia before deciding that his dream of stardom did not end there.

His stats and his personality speak louder than anything else.
 
He is well aware that hard work and motivation to improve should be his utmost priority.
 
After exchanging a few e-mails with Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Bayno, Assem was referred to Minnesota State University head coach Matthew Margenthaler.

The 19-year-old Egyptian “talented big-kid, by US standards” as Margenthaler called him led his country at the FIBA U19 World Championship with averages of 18.5 points and 12.2 rebounds. He dominated the boards throughout the tournament.
 
He ranked second in rebounding behind tournament MVP and top-scorer Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas. Assem also finished as the tournament's third leading scorer behind Croatian Boris Barac.

In a game against new world champions Lithuania, he had game highs of 23 points and 19 rebounds. Eleven of those boards were on the offensive end. He dominated the painted area at both ends of the court.

Assem left the court with the feeling of an accomplished mission despite the 78-59 defeat.

Two days earlier, when everything indicated that Egypt was going to make it to the Quarter-Finals as they led by 10 against Croatia, Assem fouled out with five minutes to play. Things got bleak for Egypt as Croatia made the most of his absence and came from behind for an 83-81 win.

Egypt finished with just one win, but the Pharaohs’ refusal to lose was so impressive, that opponents certainly were made to remember Assem, Omar Mohamed and the rest of the team’s determination.

A month later, after his memorable display in Latvia, Assem showed no signs of tiredness as he represented his country at the Afrobasket 2011 in Madagascar.

As the youngest player on the senior squad, he played a total of 45 minutes over five games, averaging 2.6 points and 4.0 rebounds.

 Shifting from the North African weather to chilly Minnesota is not a problem for Assem.

“I came for a better education [in business] and to improve my basketball skills and possibly make it to the NBA,” he said.

“I had a lot of offers in Latvia and I decided to come to Minnesota State University because of their academic, sport program and interest in me. I am adapting well.”
 
The prospect of helping Egypt restore their international prestige is something Assem has on his mind.

The country last won an African title back in 1983 and three consecutive bronze medals came in 1999, 2001 and 2003. A podium place has eluded them for the past four editions of the Afrobasket.
 
“I want to give my contribution to my country whenever it is necessary, and, like my father, play in an Olympic tournament some day,” Assem continued.
 



Pat Monaghan, an assistant coach at Minnesota State University, shared his impressions of Assem.

“We expect him to make a big impact because of his ability around the basket," he said.

“He is practicing with us, and he is adapting well."

If family genes are passed on in sports, then surely Assem will represent Egypt at the Olympics sometime in his career just like his father did at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Julio Chitunda from FIBA



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wnbaplayer
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 30, 2011, 02:31:12 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

That Gonzaga Guy is good !


Guy Edi is making his international bow with Ivory Coast right now and judging from his performance against Rwanda on Wednesday at the Afrobasket in Madagascar, he has a very bright future.

Just 22, the Agboville-born player possesses a wide array of offensive skills.

He may just end up being an Olympian, either next year in London or in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

A 1.96m small forward at Gonzaga University in the United States, Edi led the Ivorians in a wonderful comeback against Rwanda on Wednesday that put the team in the Quarter-Finals.

The silver medal winners two years ago in Libya and participants at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey trailed Rwanda for most of the game and needed a super performance in the last quarter to clinch an 80-72 victory.

At the break, Rwanda were in front 44-33 but Ivory Coast stepped up in the last quarter and went on a 7-0 run to claim a 65-62 advantage.

Edi buried a three-ball and hit a shot inside the arc while Mo Kone converted two precious free-throw opportunities in the spurt.

Rwanda, who were led by Kenneth Gasana's 30 points and four rebounds, managed to pull level three more times at 65-65, 67-67 and 69-69, but Ivory Coast ended up stretching their advantage with an 11-3 run to seal their presence in the last eight.

Edi drilled three shots from long range and ended up with a game-high 34 points.

The small forward who plays at the Gonzaga University in the United States hit all his seven attempts inside the arc.

He was, in a word, unstoppable.

After the game, Edi told FIBA.com his teammates had "encouraged" him "to keep shooting at the right time, that is what I did."

"We had a great comeback in the game," Edi said.

"As we became more focused, we were desperate to win that game."

Now what appears to be a classic confrontation at the Afrobasket is on the cards because in the Quarter-Finals, Ivory Coast will play Senegal.

The Senegalese, who beat defending champions Angola in the Preliminary Round, advanced after whipping Madagascar 92-75 on Wednesday night.

Senegal will start as favorites.

"We know Senegal very well as we have played a couple of friendly games against them," Edi said.

"We know their strengths and weaknesses.

"They have defeated Angola, but now it's a different stage.

"Whoever loses goes home.

"I don't think any team wants to go home early."

Edi, 22, has made quite an impact in his first Afrobasket.

He had 19 points in the team's opening victory over South Africa and now there is the 34-point explosion against Rwanda to tell the folks back in the USA about.

"This is my first African competition," he said.

"I have to say we are here to win, no disrespect to other teams, but we have a goal to accomplish."

Ivory Coast were put on notice early at the Afrobasket that nothing was going to be given to them.

They fell 82-75 to Egypt in their second outing and then 76-70 to heavyweights Cameroon.

The triumph over Rwanda, Edi is hoping, has put the team back on track.

It's not just the win against Rwanda that has put Edi in a good mood.

He says the tournament hosts Madagascar have done a wonderful job making sure the players have everything they need.

"The tournament is well organized," he said.

"We must give credit to Madagascar.

"Everything is done perfectly."

As for his aims, Edi has many.

When the Afrobasket is over, he will turn his attention back to the Zags - a college team in the American state of Washington that many a famous player has turned out for over the years.

John Stockton, who is in the Naismith Hall of Fame and played for the United States Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, competed at Gonzaga as well as France national team big man Ronny Turiaf.

"My personal goal is to make it to the (NCAA) Final Four with my team," Edi said.

"This would be very exciting for all of us at Gonzaga."

The winners of the Afrobasket will qualify for the London Games.

"The Olympic Games is a dream of any athlete," Edi said.

"For we Ivorians, and with our country living that (political) instability, to make it to London 2012 would be a perfect present to our fans."




by Jeff Taylor from FIBA



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« Reply #1 on: Jul 15, 2011, 07:24:20 AM »

African Basketball News &  Events • Noticias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano

Big-time hoops comes to Madagascar


Afrobasket 2011 - Basketball may not be the first game that comes to mind when sports is the topic of conversation on the African island nation of Madagascar.


But this summer, it certainly is.

The country is staging the Afrobasket from 17 to 28 August.

The Championship was supposed to be held in Ivory Coast but political instability in the country forced organisers to move the event and in April, Madagascar was confirmed as hosts.

While countries with rich traditions will show up at the Afrobasket like defending champions Angola, the team that will no doubt receive most of the support by spectators is Madagascar – a nation that has made just two previous appearances in the competition.

They will be hosts, but make no mistake that Madagascar will be underdogs.

They have won just two times and lost 10 in their Afrobasket history.

The two triumphs came on their debut appearance in 1972, when the Championship was held in Senegal.

That Madagascar team romped to a 95-68 victory over Mali and also hammered Nigeria, 105-73.

More recently, at the Afrobasket 2003 in Senegal, Madagascar went 0-6.

The man hoping to lead the islanders to new heights in basketball goes by the name of Angel Manzano Polo, a Spaniard who was only recently put in charge by the Madagascar Basketball Federation.

“I came to Madagascar as a tourist and I met a local basketball legend who invited me to give a lecture here,” the 46-year-old Manzano said to FIBA.com.

“It has been a great experience as everything started very informally.

“I agreed to work in Madagascar as my wish is to develop the game here and take it to a higher level.”

While the likes of Angola, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon will have the pre-tournament aim of capturing the title to qualify for the London Games, Madagascar are more concerned about playing well and getting a win or two.

“We'll play well in order to win games, and I believe this can quite possibly happen,” Manzano said.

One look at the Madagascar team will suggest that it’s going to be a tall order for them every time out.

Many African nations have produced big, dominating low-post players in their history but Madagascar is not one of them.

“Malagasy people are traditionally short and my team is not much different," Manzano said.

The team will be made up primarily of players who compete in Madagascar.

“Our top players play official competition games for only two weeks per year,” the coach said.

“Players are not professionals.

"They have their own jobs.

"They play for the national team because they love basketball and their country.

“The vast majority of the players I am working with are home-based players.”

While the odds are stacked against them, there is nevertheless a mixture of hope and ambition in the federation.

There is also a lot of excitement being generated among the fans.

The 2011 Afrobasket is the most important tournament ever held in the country.

Manzano, who has worked in Spain with Fuenlabrada and with Real Madrid's second team in the past, is optimistic and excited, too.

But he is also cautious.

“We have to be realistic and not let our expectations get too high,” he said.

“We will play Nigeria, Mali and Mozambique.

"They are all very good teams.”

As for the team's preparations, Madagascar are  expected to travel to the Seychelles capital of Victoria in early August for the Indian Ocean Island Games.

In Victoria, they will take on The Comoros, Réunion and Mauritius.

Then, Manzano will return with the team for the biggest event in their lives.

He’d like nothing more than to remain in the country once the Afrobasket is over.

“I still have four months more on my contract,” he said, “but I would like to carry on working here.

“I want to stay longer.”


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