African league players snubbed for NBA game
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.
OH SHOOT Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies will display his skills at the NBA Africa game at Ellis Park
SORRY Amadou Gallo Fall said it was not the NBA’s intention to choose African league players