African league play­ers snubbed for NBA game

CityPress - - Sport - RE­ABETSWE MASHIGO re­abetswe.mashigo@city­press.co.za

The first Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (NBA) Africa game will take place on Satur­day – but the sold-out event does not fea­ture any African league play­ers.

South Su­danese-born and two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng of the Mi­ami Heat will cap­tain Team Africa, which con­sists of first- and sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion play­ers from the NBA.

The game aims to pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of bas­ket­ball in Africa, but ac­cord­ing to the vice-pres­i­dent and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of NBA Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall, the NBA had not in­tended to se­lect play­ers from African leagues.

“The Africa game is an NBA game just like the All-Star game – only play­ers from teams in the NBA can par­tic­i­pate,” he said.

Cyril Sha­bal­ala, who is cap­tain of the Duzi Roy­als, which plays in the Bas­ket­ball Na­tional League (BNL), com­mended the NBA for host­ing the Africa game, say­ing it would help to pro­mote the sport – but ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment that there were no BNL play­ers in the match.

“It’s great that the NBA is host­ing its first game that will put Africa on the map, but I would have loved it if they had worked hand-in-hand with the BNL.

“Most play­ers from the do­mes­tic league don’t even have tick­ets to at­tend the game,” he said.

Sha­bal­ala hopes that cor­po­rate South Africa will start in­vest­ing in lo­cal teams in­stead of for­eign ones to help de­velop bas­ket­ball in the coun­try.

Fall said the NBA’s fo­cus was to im­prove do­mes­tic African leagues.

“Maybe in fu­ture we will have games against one of the African league teams, but right now we are fo­cus­ing on strength­en­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the sport through pro­grammes like Bas­ket­ball with­out Borders,” said Fall.

Na­tional Bas­ket­ball Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent and eight-time NBA All-Star player Chris Paul of the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers will cap­tain Team World.

Team Africa will take on Team World at El­lis Park in Johannesburg.

PHOTO: JOE MUR­PHY / NBA VIA GETTY IM­AGES

OH SHOOT Marc Ga­sol of the Mem­phis Griz­zlies will dis­play his skills at the NBA Africa game at El­lis Park

PHOTO: AMY CANBY

SORRY Amadou Gallo Fall said it was not the NBA’s in­ten­tion to choose African league play­ers

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