Thunder Trio in Africa

For Thunder players, the offseason is a great time to work on their skills, get some much needed rest and come back better than ever the next season. It’s also an opportunity for those men to give back to their communities and pursue their philanthropic goals.

Over this Labor Day weekend, Thunder players Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Hasheem Thabeet have been halfway across the world on the African continent, where all three were either born or have roots. By participating in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in South Africa, all three players got the chance to support the game of basketball in Africa, hopefully propelling the game forward.

Thanks to Rachel Walsh at the NBA, thunder.nba.com has been receiving updates throughout the weekend about the Thunder trio’s activities in South Africa.

Day one in South Africa began with 60 young African basketball players participating in a life skills seminar that was co-hosted by Sefolosha and NBA Vice President for Development in Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall. There the kids learned about off-court challenges in addition to the importance of discipline and education. Afterwards, the campers got on-court lessons from Sefolosha, Ibaka and Thabeet then the entire group hosted Special Olympics for over 100 kids. For Sefolosha, whose father hails from South Africa, it was a wonderful first day of giving back.

“I grew up with my dad as a musician, so I saw a lot of South African artists coming to the house” Sefolosha said. “This had a big influence for me as a young child. Being able to come back to South Africa, and Africa, and give back, I am always happy to do that.”

On day two, the Ibaka and Thabeet helped lead the Basketball Without Borders girls' camp which was equal parts basketball skills development and life skills seminars. In the afternoon, the group helped provide furniture and home appliances to a house in a local village then the players visited with families in the area. Basketball action continued on day three, but most importantly, the contingent dropped by the Boys and Girls Club to dedicate its legacy project, a newly refurbished basketball court.

“There are people here who care about the future of this country, and you are the future of this country” Sefolosha said to the campers at the court dedication. “Please respect this court and make a good use of it by coming here, keeping it in a safe place, keeping it in a place where you can play sports, interact with one another, in a good way and in a good manner.”

The final day of the trip culminated with an All-Star game with some of the best young players in Africa, as the Thunder trio helped wrap up the 11th annual Basketball Without Borders camp in exciting fashion.