IT’S NOT A TALL ORDER

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - NJAB­ULO NGIDI

NA­TIONAL Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion stars are in town for their an­nual tour to South Africa.

Los Angeles Lak­ers for­ward Luol Deng is proud of the growth bas­ket­ball has made in the con­ti­nent.

The 32-year-old Deng was born in South Su­dan, grew up with­out ac­cess to live NBA matches on TV or he­roes from the con­ti­nent who could in­spire him to dream of play­ing for some of the big­gest teams in the game.

But he pushed none­the­less, fall­ing in love with the sport in Egypt af­ter his fam­ily es­caped a civil war. His game was re­fined in Eng­land be­fore he went to the US to play for teams like the Chicago Bulls, Cleve­land Cava­liers, Mi­ami Heat and in his current home in Los Angeles. Deng is back in the con­ti­nent to in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of play­ers in the Bas­ket­ball With­out Bor­ders Africa pro­gramme that will cul­mi­nate in an ex­hi­bi­tion match to­mor­row be­tween Team Africa and Team World at the Tick­et­pro Dome in Joburg.

“The game is grow­ing in the con­ti­nent,” Deng said. “Africa is in a unique space right now where peo­ple are start­ing to re­alise how tal­ented young guys from here are. BWB has shown the rest of the world what hap­pens when you give th­ese kids an op­por­tu­nity. There are a num­ber of them who have made the NBA af­ter tak­ing part in this pro­gramme (like Joel Em­biid of Cameroon, who was a par­tic­i­pant in 2011) and there is a grow­ing num­ber of play­ers in the league from the con­ti­nent.”

Deng and other NBA stars built 10 homes in Le­na­sia along with 200 volunteers from the NBA fam­ily. To­day, they will visit the SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lage in En­nerdale.

PIC­TURE: GETTY IMAGES

Kristaps Porzingis of Team World poses as part of the Bas­ket­ball With­out Bor­ders Africa pro­gramme at the Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional School of Johannesburg yes­ter­day.

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