Slam dunk for basketball

2013-05-19 14:00

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NBA vice-president of development in Africa says SA should be driving force on continent.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has given the thumbs up to the start of the much-anticipated men’s Basketball National League (BNL) in South Africa.

The league is scheduled to take off in September.

Amadou Fall, the US-based NBA’s vice-president of development in Africa, reckons South Africa should be the driving force behind the growth and progress of the sport on

the continent.

“As the NBA, we welcome SA having a professional basketball league and we hope it will attract talent from around the world, because to us this country is a first world country as far as sport is concerned,” said Fall.

He said the NBA supported the progress of the game on the continent and added that “nothing would make us happier than seeing SA leading the way on the African stage and on the global stage”.

Fall believes there is an oversupply of talent in South Africa, but no platform to showcase it.

He said the country had the ability to develop into a dominant force that could conquer the best in Africa, despite the lack of well-built players.

He said Angola was a case in point.

It does not have big players compared to their west African counterparts, yet it had won the Afrobasket 10 times and was the highest ranked African side in the world, at 15.

“No excuses, like ‘we do not have tall players’.

I’ve seen some really tall guys here, and besides, basketball is about skill which you have in abundance in this country,” said Fall.

“The BNL will help keep local players at home with regular game time but consistent and stable leadership will be the bedrock of success.”

Having set up their African offices in Joburg about three years ago, NBA officials have been crisscrossing the continent, offering their expertise and experience to establish the league with a grassroots focus.

“Our mission is to see more kids starting to play from a young age,” said Fall.

He said South Africa has proved it had the capacity to sustain world class sporting leagues.

With the NBA’s emphasis on development, Fall said they wanted to see the emergence of a university league to supply players to the BNL.

African basketball powerhouses Angola, Nigeria and Senegal have invested much of their money and time on development.

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