internationally-acclaimed Basketball Without Borders initiative in South Africa.
None of the Zimbabwean youth caught the eye of the selectors – the National Basketball Association and the International Basketball Federation – to participate at the five-day event.
This cost hopeful Zimbabwean players an opportunity to hone their skills as well as rub shoulders with the continent’s best and NBA stars that graced the event.
The organisations selected 100 top players aged 19 and below from 21 African countries to participate in the outreach programme.
“FIBA and the NBA selected the players based on their basketball skills, leadership abilities and dedication to the sport,” explained the selectors on the issue.
Hosts South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon and Angola were the highest represented countries while youth from such countries such as Mali, Sudan and Central Africa Republic whose basketball profile was inferior to Zimbabwe’s back in the day, also participated in the camp. Legendary Houston Rockets centre Dikembe Mutombo, Harold Ellis (Atlanta Hawks) and Denver Nuggets’ Bill Branch are among an array of stars that graced the camp.
Basketball without Borders is the NBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program, which uses the sport to influence positive social change, and features current and former NBA players and team personnel as camp coaches.
Basketball is one of numerous sporting disciplines that have been on the wane in recent years in a development tied to the economic setbacks that have seen an exodus of sponsors and talented youngsters ‘retiring’ prematurely from the once-popular sport that does not offer them financial returns.
The exclusion of Zimbabwean youths among the 100 other youths is treated with suspicion with independent observers, alleging political punishment.
In Africa, Zimbabwe is rated as number eight in basketball after Angola, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Kenya respectively.
'Politics' claim as no players catch selectors' eyes
BY MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's dropping basketball standards and its lack of exposure to the international community cost its up-and-coming basketballers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in the just-ended and