South Africa's basketball community

BWB Africa 2014 – a priceless investment in African basketball

By on August 13, 2014 in News

BWB Africa 2014Basketball Without Borders Africa 2014 officially wrapped up last week Friday at Wembley Arena in Johannesburg, finishing off four days of basketball playing, training and development that the participants will never forget.

With about 55 players from all over Africa in attendance, campers get a chance of a lifetime to accelerate their basketball development.

At the conclusion of the camp, the following promising young players walked away with the hardware:

  • All-Star Game MVP: Ousseynou Sarr (Senegal)
  • High Flyer: Lamine Diane (Senegal)
  • Three Point Shootout Champion: Mohamed Selmi (Tunisia)
  • BWB Africa 2014 Camp MVP: Luca Lunneman (South Africa)

There was also some incredibly exciting news for South African basketball fans, revealed on day 1. In case you haven’t heard yet, the NBA will be staging an exhibition match in Johannesburg in August 2015! Bring on the NBA Action!

Game Time

Anyone who was at BWB Africa 2014 will tell you that the atmosphere was electric. Lee, one of the volunteers from UNICEF helping out, was quick to notice the level of intensity and how all the players were completely engrossed in the camp. Being a camp that so many players would give anything to attend, none of the participants take it for granted. They know they’re there to learn and to work hard. You can see it in their eyes, the way they watch, the way they listen intently to the coaches’ directions.

On top of the drills and life skills sessions they go through, the players get divided into teams (sharing names with some NBA Franchises, such as the Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets) and receive in-game practice via a mini tournament that runs throughout the camp.

And its during those games that the biggest challenge to the camp emerges. You can clearly see the difficulty that every coach here faces – trying to foster a team spirit while bringing together talented players who are there first and foremost to shine and develop their own skills. Me versus the team. My success versus the team’s success. Four days is not a long enough time to really develop cohesion as a team meaning that the games don’t flow as smoothly as you would expect with this much talent on the court. In spite of that challenge though, the coaches do an incredible job of reigning in the players and maintaining the balance as much as they possibly can.

All in

BWB Africa 2014 leaders

Masai Ujiri, current General Manager of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and a Nigerian native, is the BWB Africa Project Director. He has been involved in each BWB Africa event since it started here in 2003.

What strikes you immediately about Masia Ujiri is his connection with the players. The respect and reverence shown to him is clearly earned, a result of many years of selfless dedication.

It’s not just him though. There are many that have invested countless hours trying to build some sort of legacy on the African continent. Everyone involved is there for the right reason, and together they pass on knowledge about the game and about life to these young players that would otherwise take years to learn.

A point that comes up frequently during discussions with some of the team involved is that of sustainability – how to translate these four days into something that continues to create value into the future. That’s a story for another day, but these four days are certainly used to maximum advantage.

Just before lunch on the third day the players were called together and seated in the gym for a 10 minute team-building session that can only be described as incredible. To overcome an obvious language barrier, Ujiri ropes in some of the camp leaders and they lead they players in several war cries (if you can call “Who let the dogs out” a war cry) that get everyone pumped and, more importantly, on the same page. Simple but very effective.

Investment in Africa’s future

BWB Africa 2014 All-StarsBWB lays a terrific foundation for youth development!

The NBA in partnership with FIBA have gone beyond the call of duty to invest in African basketball like this.

From here, it’s up to local federations to build on this success, including our own Basketball South Africa.

Our sincere thanks to the NBA, NBA Africa and FIBA for bringing BWB to Africa and investing in these young players like this.

Here’s to a bright future for the game both on the continent and here in SA!


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