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Tuesday August 2, 2011 12:23 PM

The Global Game


Basketball Without Borders wraps up successful stint in Brazil

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - This is about more than just basketball.

For Rockets’ Vice President of Player Personnel Gersson Rosas, this is about passion; about combining his love of home and love for a game in order to take both to a higher level.

Rosas recently completed his fifth Basketball Without Borders experience, spending nearly a week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil along with 40 of the best teenage basketball players from Latin America and Canada. Teaming up with NBA legends like Dominique Wilkins, Allan Houston and Sam Perkins, Rosas and the BWB team put the campers through four days of drills and competitions, culminating with an All-Star game and skills challenge on Monday.

But while the basketball element brought everyone together and served as the tie that binds, the true beauty of BWB lies in its ability for the NBA to make a much greater impact on the community at large. And for the Colombian-born Rosas, that is what makes this event so special and what keeps him coming back for more year after year.

“It hits home to me,” says Rosas. “I’m passionate about basketball, but I’m also passionate about Colombia and the South American region as a whole, and the opportunity to marry both passions is something that I value greatly.

“This is not just great from a basketball point of view but the league also does an outstanding job of getting involved in the community and doing a lot throughout the region wherever we’re at. During this experience we’ve been fortunate enough to go out to visit some neighborhoods here in Rio that are very poor, and the opportunity to be involved and support and refurbish basketball courts and being a part of helping the community is something that’s really important to all of us.”

The camp included a life skills session on leadership led by BWB community partner YMCA and time spent working with 75 Special Olympic athletes from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. And, of course, the fortunate 40 attendees received invaluable hoops instruction from some of the best basketball minds in the business.

“It’s a labor of love in that we all take our time to volunteer our efforts during the offseason,” says Rosas. “We come in and develop the game by helping the top kids in the region develop their ability, but also by giving them something to take back home with them, something that gives them the opportunity to grow and develop the game in their own countries. Maybe not all these players will become NBA players, but this will definitely help further their careers whether that’s in South America or Europe or whatever that next level is for them.

“It’s always good to be on the floor with the kids and to also work with the amazing staff that we have here. To help develop kids at a fundamental level at that age is very, very fulfilling because they really appreciate the opportunity, they value the instruction and they realize we can impart the kind of knowledge that can help them get where they dream to be. It’s just so amazing to see the way basketball can unite individuals from all over the globe.”

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