Author Topic: § African Tournaments, News, Stories & Events • Competencias, Noticias, Historias & Eventos del Baloncesto Africano  (Read 145162 times)

BGA Sandra Mirsov

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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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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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RE Cuer2

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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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Tim McKay

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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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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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