Biyombo Participates in 11th Annual Basketball Without Borders

After the intense three days of life skills seminars, skills development sessions and competitive games each afternoon, the last day of the camp was all about celebration. The morning saw the last games being played on the courts of King Edward VII School in Johannesburg, but the real fun came in the afternoon when some of the most promising young players representing the African continent faced each other in the 2013 Basketball without Borders Africa All-Star Game.

The All-Star Game half time-show included a three-point shootout won by Emmanuel Ejeh from Nigeria. He stood against Kyrie Irving in the ultimate contest, but the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year was out of reach for the young and talented Nigerian that Sunday afternoon.

The 11th Basketball without Borders Africa camp concluded with an award ceremony where the top African young players were recognized for their contribution, leadership, performances and conduct at the camp. Snatching the Nike All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award was Cheikh Diallo from Senegal with Cheikh Djiby Fall becoming the SAA High Flyer of the tournament. Gerson Domingos from Angola was named the 2013 Nike BWB Camp MVP.

The highlight of the 2013 BWB Africa All-Star Game was the half-time performance of the Atlanta Hawks Sky Squad. The four incredibly talented American gymnasts got the audience on their feet while showcasing their skills and having their own slam dunk competition in the air.

It was also the last day of the NBA Youth Camp hosted at St John’s School in Johannesburg. The 2013 Basketball without Borders Africa camp may have ended in the last cold spell of South African winter, but will be remembered for some of the most talented young African athletes who participated in the event.

Four years ago it was Gorgui Dieng who was making his mark on youth basketball in Africa and raised the bar high for those who will choose to follow his footsteps. This did not intimidate the young participants of this year’s cam and the level of skills and competition was also of the highest quality. The 2014 Basketball without Borders is due to tip-off in less than a year now – we hope that the level of skills will be even higher.

Johannesburg woke up to a chilly Saturday morning as the life skills and basketball action continued on the courts of King Edward VII School. As on the morning before, both boys and girls started their third day at the camp with a life skills seminar. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Jerryd Bayless had headed to the courts before other coaches and players arrived to spend time with the youth and talk about leadership as well as share their life experiences and lessons.

When all the remaining NBA players and coaches arrived on the courts, it was all back to business. Skills stations and team practices took up the rest of the morning while the young boys and girls had an opportunity to learn from NBA players and coaches once again. Simultaneously, the NBA Youth Camp was taking place at St John’s College with almost 60 children learning the fundamentals of the game. Meanwhile, in the afternoon, the NBA contingent visited the Boys and Girls Club in Pimville, Soweto to dedicate NBA Cares’ 32nd legacy project as part of the Basketball without Borders Africa camp. The initiative is a part of a partnership between the NBA, McDonald’s, the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Africa and Johannesburg City Parks, focused on growing the Jr. NBA/WNBA program in the Gauteng Province. A newly refurbished basketball court was presented to the Boys and Girls Club in a special ceremony in the presence of Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner, Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Vice President for Development – Africa, the participating NBA and WNBA players and legends, as well as executives from McDonald’s including Greg Solomon, McDonald’s South Africa Managing Director.

Thabo Sefolosha had a special message for the children of the Boys and Girls Club who will be using the basketball court from now on.

“There are people here who care about the future of this country, and you are the future of this country” Sefolosha said. “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 second day of the Basketball without Borders Africa camp started with a life skills seminar conducted by current African NBA players Hasheem Thabeet (Tanzania), Luol Deng (South Sudan), Serge Ibaka (Congo) and Bismack Biyombo (DRC) with WNBA legend Clarisse Machanguana (Mozambique) interacting with elite South African female players aged 18 and younger at the BWB Girls’ Camp. Life skills seminars form an integral part of the BWB Africa curriculum and are conducted in partnership with UNICEF and Hoops 4 Hope.

Following the seminar, the campers were divided into teams and took part in a 90-minute skills development session. The current and former NBA coaches and players worked with the young players setting up six stations where the youngsters had an opportunity to practice basketball fundamentals as well as learn ball handling skills from Kyrie Irving, the offensive post moves from Hasheem Thabeet, spacing from Lionel Hollins or practice their jump shots with Luol Deng. The players broke away for lunch to come back on the court later in the day to participate in the afternoon games.

While the campers headed back to the basketball courts after lunch, Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, and Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Vice President for Development – Africa, accompanied by the NBA and WNBA players and legends visited the SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg. The village consists of 16 family houses and is a home to a group 158 children. Established in 1983, the village has an SOS Kindergarten offering pre-school education as well as provides the local community members with an opportunity to learn new skills enabling them to generate incomes for their own families. As a part of the BWB and NBA Cares initiative, the NBA provided furniture and homeware for one of the houses whilst the NBA and WNBA players and legends had a chance to visit and spend time with some of the families living in the village.

The second day of the camp also marked a tip-off of the NBA Youth Camp hosted at St John’s College. Close to 60 South African children between 10-18 years of age will have an opportunity to learn from and spend time with NBA coaches and players over the next two days. The NBA hosts the Youth Camp in Johannesburg, South Africa for the second straight year.

Basketball Without Borders, Africa Tips Off in Johannesburg

The 11th annual Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa camp tipped off at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday morning. It is a consecutive BWB camp for Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Dikembe Mutombo with first visits from Bismack Biyombo, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, Jerryd Bayless and Clarice Machanguana.

The four-day camp officially started with a press conference held on the main court where Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Vice President for Development – Africa, introduced current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches. Fall especially welcomed Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, visiting South Africa for the first time. The Deputy Commissioner extended a warm welcome to all invited guests and emphasized NBA’s commitment to Basketball without Borders and the African continent.

For Oklahoma City Thunder’s Thabo Sefolosha this visit to the country of his father carries a special personal meaning as well.

“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.”

Prior to the press conference, the 60 young African players participating in the camp took part in a life skills seminar hosted by Amadou Gallo Fall, Masai Ujiri and Thabo Sefolosha. The campers had an opportunity to learn about challenges off the court as well as recognize the importance of discipline and education.

The morning session closed with the players divided into groups working on the fundamentals of the game and holding scrimmages. Meanwhile, the highlight of the day came in the afternoon when NBA and WNBA players, coaches and legends hosted Special Olympics for over 100 youth at the school. Dikembe Mutombo welcomed all the participants and accompanied by Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, Hasheem Thabeet and Clarise Machanguana, among others, encouraged the young players to participate.

As if the day had not been filled with enough excitement prior to that point, the most special moment came in the evening when Adam Silver and Amadou Gallo Fall announced a multiyear television and digital partnership between the NBA and SuperSport on ‘Thursday Night Live with Marawa’ broadcasted simultaneously across the continent via several SuperSport channels. It was a perfect ending of the first day and a grand opening of the 11th annual BWB Africa camp.