BWB Africa

FIBA - Basketball Without Borders Africa comes to an end

JOHANNEBURG (Basketball Without Borders Africa) - The NBA started arriving in Johanneburg last week Tuesday for the Basketball Without Borders Program. 100 kids from all over Africa were flown to Jozi from 18 different countries to get instruction from top NBA coaches and players. The camp covered basketball and life skills instruction daily from Wednesday the 5th of September until Sunday the 9th of September.

Some of the NBA stars who participated in this year's camp are Dikembe Mutombo from the Houston Rockets, who will probably be playing his last season this year, Bruce Bowen from the world champion San Antonio Spurs, Primoz Brezec and Emeka Okafor from the Charlotte Bobcats, Josh Childress from the Atlanta Hawks, Pat Garrity from the Orlando Magic, Sean Marks from the Phoenix Suns, Kevin Martin from the Sacramento Kings, Bostajan Nachbar from the New York Nets, Malik Rose from the New York Knicks and former players Steve Smith and Jim Jackson.

Over the past week the players participated in a number of community outreach events, such as their visit to the Sky Trust 20th Anniversary Celebration. Over the years the NBA has built a learning center and a cafeteria at the Sky Trust, which is situated in one of the poorest parts of Soweto, in Kliptown. Players such as Jim Jackson have built strong bonds with some of the kids who have come through SKY. One such child who has come through SKY is "Slim", a former resident of Kliptown, who is currently attending college with the financial assistance of NBA players. Slim made a very emotial speech about how greatful he is to the NBA and it's players for taking time to visit Sky and support the program financially. I spoke to Malik Rose and he wanted to encourage Bob the founder to keep persisting and keep SKY going because he has come a long way in 20 years and still has a lot to acheive.

The players also visited the Habitat for Humanity House Build where the Pagliuca family donated a house for two families in Katlegong. The NBA players and representatives of the Pagliuca family assisted with building the two houses. I spoke to Bruce Bowen on the day and he was excited to help those who are less fortunate.

The players also attended the NBA Cares/DeBeers/ Cotlands House Dedication in Diepkloof extensions Soweto. I got a chance to catch up with New Zealand player Sean Marks who was in South Africa for the first time. He was very happy to be involved in the opening of the Cotlands home in Soweto.
On Wednesday night after observing the players during scrimmages, the NBA had a draft where players were divided into 10 franchises. Namely the Charlotte Bobcats, the Atlanta Hawks, the Sacramento Kings, the New York Knicks, the Orlando Magic, the Dallas Mavericks, the Toronto Raptors, the Houston Rockets, the Seattle Supersonics and the San Antonio Spurs.

The campers went through basketball drills, life skills seminars and played scrimmages everyday until Saturday. On Saturday the second all-star teams were selected. Thereafter the All-Star game B was played to a very modest crowd.

The main event of the Basketball Without Borders Camp was the All-Star Game A. There were no less than 300 people who packed American International School in Johannesburg to catch a glimpse of the NBA stars and to also see the future of african basketball on the hardwood.

Playing for the White Team were Daniel Daudu (Nigeria) , Hamet Niane ( Mali), Helder Goncalves (Angola), Ayodeji Egbeyemi (Nigeria), Remy N'Diaye (Senegal), Ethasor Akpejiori (Nigeria), Daniel Iremiren (Nigeria), Papa N'Dao (Senegal), Josue Mulamba (Congo), Moussa Gueye (Senegal).

Playing for the Green Team were Ojo Adeolu (Nigeria), Ibrahim El Gamal (Egypt), Byago Diouf (Senegal), Mohammed Biu (Nigeria), Wally Coulibaly (Mali), Alain Diyani ( Cameroon), Daniel Tchuigoua (Cameroon), Abel Baraya (Nigeria), Chukwuemeka Okonji (Nigeria), Baye Keita (Senegal), and Ehimen Orukpe (Nigeria).

No South African players made the all star team but there were a few stand outs such as Tshilidzi Nephawe, a 6'10" beast of a young man who only starting playing basketball last year April. He's currently in grade 11 and will probably be playing at Durban High School next year if he doesn't get a scholarship to study in the States. Also Sizo Sambo a 5'8" shooting guard also impressed a few coaches this past week.

Hamet Niane (Mali), Byago Diouf (Senegal), Benoit Owona Ekitti (Cameroon) and Alain Diyani (Cameroon) all were selected to take part in the three point contest.

The camp came to an end today with a Braai sponsored by Nando's. The NBA and Fiba must pat themselves on another succesful Basketball Without Borders camp. South Africa is looking forward to many more.

Tshepo Ditshego
South African Correspondent