Q & A with Anicet Lavodrama, FIBA’s International Relations and Development Manager
Anicet is a legend in African basketball having led his native Central African Republic to the African Nations Cup in Tunis in 1987. An Olympian, Anicet was one of top college players in the U.S. and was drafted by the L.A. Clippers with the third pick in the third round of the 1985 NBA Draft.
What are you impressions of the talent at Basketball without Borders Africa?
The talent is better overall than the past two camps Ė last year we had some exceptional individual talent, here we have better overall talent; there are always five or six very, very good players, very talented and promising, but overall, I am very happy with it Ė there is a clear evolution.
What are the biggest obstacles that these young players have in advancing?
The biggest floor first is the structure within their domestic basketball. The work the federations have to do, the lack of resources; these are major issues and also the cost of the equipment. Most courts are in a very dire state in almost all African countries, also many players donít even have access to affordable shoes Ė shoes are 190 euros and these represent a third of the yearly income of a family of four or five, so this is very prohibitive. The next thing is just the situation in the countries, there are volatile governments with no real prospective of an optimistic future and as a result the kids are affected by this because their parents are affected by this.
Which African countries have the biggest pool of talent?
There are four or five and this is due mainly to their natural physical attributes and the. The first is Senegal, then Nigeria; you have Mali and Egypt. The players from these countries have more potential in terms of physical ability and physical characteristics.
Why is this camp important?
This camp is more than important! This is the one chance these kids have to work in a structured environment to which they are not very accustomed to, except maybe Angola, but even they are not used to this kind of structure. All the different work stations, the drills, itís all well planned and organized and addresses the specifics of what a player needs to progress and become a better player. It is very important because within Africa there are so many challenges and so many tragic issues that need to be dealt with. To bring in all these young kids Ė because they are the future of this continent - to work together around something this positive, itís fantastic. This goes beyond simply the basketball objective we all have and itís also gives the chance of interaction among the international basketball federation, the NBA; the interaction between the NBA players and coaches from the African continent and the young players; itís very significant It may not always be linked directly to basketball, but basketball exists within an environment; itís a social, political and economic environment so as to give a chance to the people from the United States to work here, to be here, to contribute and interact with the young kids from the African continent, this is also very important. Also Basketball without Borders Africa serves to continue to build the sport of basketball in Africa because there is a lot of talent here, but with that you need the resources, the structure and the work and hopefully the structure will be solidly in place. Soon we can look forward to African countries competing with the likes of Spain, Serbia, France and Argentina etc.
Will we soon see a player from Basketball without Borders in the NBA?
Yes. There are already one or two from the first BWB who in another one or two years should have a very good shot at making it to the NBA. From this yearsí camp, there are two in particular who have very good potential Ė but we donít want to put them under undue pressure my stating their names.