Obama To Open Basketball Court in Siaya

Basketball outreach program Giants of Africa (GOA) has partnered with the Sauti Kuu Foundation by establishing a court at the soon to be opened Sauti Kuu Sports, Resources and Education Centre in Alego, Siaya County. 

Toronto Raptors President and GOA founder Masai Ujiri said that the Alego facility scheduled to be opened on July 16th by former United States President Barack Obama is part of a series of basketball courts to be built across Africa in an effort to grow the next generation of African leaders.

“Over the past 15 years I have watched countless timid, hopeful kids transform into inspired, mission-driven leaders as a result of simply being exposed to more,” said Mr. Ujiri.

“As we work to create greater opportunity for young adults on the continent, expansion is our natural next step in delivering on our mission. Basketball opened so many doors and built me up on many levels, so I’m excited to pay that forward to the next generation of African giants,” he added.

Sauti Kuu which is run by Dr. Auma Obama is an organization focused on creating structures to help youth become mentally, socially and financially self-reliant. Ujiri plans to infuse local flavor into the design aesthetic of the basketball structures to feed into the vibrant youth culture of each African country.

Empowered by the impact the game has had on his own journey, Ujiri co-founded Giants of Africa with aspirations to leverage basketball as a vessel for young boys and girls to Dream Big, and visualize opportunities for their future in Africa and around the world.

Since its 2003 launch in Nigeria, the not-for-profit organization has expanded its footprint and programming across the continent and beyond the game. The organization has prioritized skills training and personal development from basketball, health and wellness, to leadership and social impact.

This partnership has been made possible through the relationship between Sauti Kuu and Gina Din Foundation. 

“Over the years my foundation the Gina Din Foundation has worked closely to use sports to impact communities. We are delighted with this announcement,” said foundation founder Ms. Gina Din-Kariuki.

“The mission of the Gina Din Foundation is to provide social impact on our youth, and over the years we have seen that sport is an excellent vehicle. With this court, I look forward to all the valuable life skills the local young girls and boys will gain through the medium of basketball,” she added.

The Cleveland Cavaliers Playoff run So Far

With round two of the 2018 NBA playoffs already up and running, no one really expected the Cleveland Cavaliers to come this far. Within the confines of a basketball Lebron James feels he can do anything. No shots he can’t take or block, no deficit he can’t rebound from, no strain on his body he can’t handle. For most of the time this is a good thing for the Cavaliers who would turn out to need an actual superhuman effort from Lebron just to make it out of the first round.

In those seven games against Indiana he dropped more than forty points three separate times and played 288 minutes of total basketball. That is 86% of the amount of time it was even possible for him to be on the court. He also scored or assisted on 59% of the Cavaliers total baskets and it was practically from every spot on the floor. At some point in game 7 the cameras caught him saying “I’m playing the whole game” which is what we always want from our superstars.

 The question is how practical is that when there’s still a host of games to come. That answers why he was rested towards the end of the third quarter against the pacers after he started cramping. After beating the Raptors who’ve led the eastern conference for the most part of the regular season in game one of round two, Lebron is without a doubt one the best in his craft.  Don’t get me wrong they’ve won nothing yet. That is just game one, there’s still a possible six to go, a conference final and the culmination of it all the NBA final against even better opposition. Clearly Lebron and his under achieving support cast have their work cut out. It’s a matter of let’s wait and see how much the King still has to offer.

Watamu’s The One Resort To Host Basketball Festival

Watamu is set to come to a standstill when America’s two Basketball giants descend to The One resort in October 2018.

Over the Mashujaa Day weekend, two NBA sides will clash at The One resort with the event expected to be a major boost to the local tourism.

The sides, to be announced by the organizers in early April, will also conduct clinics within local basketball clubs within the coast region.

A Kenyan select side will also get a chance to play Arizona Sun Devils in the Kilifi County based resort, said tournament director and NBA commentator Ahren Bekele.

The One Watamu Bay has a gym, some small retail outlets, water sports, plus other outdoor activities such as tennis, snorkelling and a children’s kids club play area . The resort also has 3 swimming pools. 

Watamu Bay is a small picturesque town located 20km from Malindi and is part of Kilifi County, famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the country,crystal clear waters combined with excellent snorkelling and some of the best diving in East Africa.

Giants Of Africa To Hold Kenya Basketball Training Camp

Basketball development program Giants of Africa will hold its Kenya training camp in August.

The exercise, which is part of six camps being held across Africa, will take place from August 13th to 15th. It is aimed at enhancing skills amongst young Kenyan players and will also include a community outreach project in Kayole.

 The youth focused camps will kick off in Rwanda from August 7th to 9th, Uganda from August 10th to 12th, Nigeria from August 18th to 20th, Ivory Coast from August 23rd to 25th and conclude in Senegal with boys’ and girls’ camps from August 26th to 28th . 

“One of Giants of Africa’s fundamental mottos is Dream Big. We believe that basketball can be used as a tool to educate and develop youth around the world to accomplish their dreams,” said Giants founder Masai Ujiri. 

“In addition to training coaches in each country and building infrastructure, we strive to serve as role models for these kids to learn from and be motivated by hard work. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to help them develop as athletes and be good citizens within their community,” added Ujiri who is also the Toronto Raptors President. 

Giants of Africa summer camps ‎also bring together elite and emerging coaches from across Africa and internationally. The skills sessions are tailored to develop aspiring basketball athletes both on and off the court. 

Sessions over the course of three days will focus on helping players develop athleticism, enhance life skills, set goals and inspire them to accomplish their dreams. 

 While in each country, Giants of Africa will be participating in outreach projects in each local community. In Rwanda the team will be opening a new court at Rafiki Club.  

 The Giants of Africa team will be visiting Little Saints Orphanage in Nigeria, Cite d’Ivoire Orphelinat De Bingerville in Ivory Coast and will support the SEED project in Senegal. 

In addition to running basketball camps and community outreach initiatives across the continent, the organization will also be screening its documentary of the same name, ‘Giants of Africa’ in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria. 

The film which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival documents Mr. Ujiri’s 14 year journey to inspire and create opportunities for youth in Africa through basketball.

 At the core of the film is the notion of using basketball as a tool to create lasting change and to empower others to dream big, while growing the game in Africa.

 A native of Nigeria, Ujiri’s love of basketball paved his way to becoming the first African-born General Manager for a major North American sports team and he never forgot his roots, or the opportunities presented to him. 

Inspired by the NBA’s ‘Basketball Without Borders’ program, Giants of Africa exists to create those same opportunities for not only African youth, but also for coaches and mentors who go back to their own homeland to influence future generations. Since the Giants of Africa camps began more than 100 camp attendees have moved on to high school or university in the United States, with around 20 now playing professionally in Europe. 

Giants of Africa 2017 camps will be made possible with the support of partners including the NBA, Nike, Nestlé Milo, Ecobank, MLSE Foundation and Sportscorp Travel.  

 

Slums Dunk Nets Face Off With FAM KE Warriors In Jr. NBA Nairobi Finals

East Conference champions Slums Dunk Nets will take on West Conference winners FAM KE Warriors in the Jr. NBA Nairobi Finals slated for Saturday at Africa Nazarene University.

The game which tips off at 2pm is the culmination of three and a half months of Under 14 boys’ basketball which saw 30 local school teams taking part.

The game is the culmination of three and a half months of U14 boys’ basketball which saw 30 local school teams taking part. Each school team represented one of the NBA teams and played their games in corresponding NBA team-branded jerseys.

The Jr. NBA Nairobi League structure also mirrored the NBA’s with the teams divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences with the top eight from each conference qualifying for the playoffs.

The Jr. NBA is the league’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls. It teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents. 

During last NBA season, the Jr. NBA reached more than 18 million youth in 53 countries.

 

Regional Basketball Tournament Launched

The Africa City Challenge Basketball tournament kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya June 11th to 16th.

The 5-day event that will be held at Nyayo Indoor Stadium will feature 6 teams from 6 East African city basketball powerhouses competing in 11 games that will be televised Live on Kwese Free Sports.

The teams drawn from the East African cities of Nairobi, Mogadishu, Juba, Kampala, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam are comprised of the top male All-Star players from each city teams – all competing for cash prizes amounting to over Ksh 1.5 Million. The top three teams will walk away with a cash prize between Ksh. 250,000 and Ksh. 620,000.

Participating teams are expected to start jetting into the country from 9th of June 2017. Ahead of their arrival, Tournament Director, Michael Finley, enthuses, “This will be the best sporting weekend in the history of East African basketball and the players are all psyched and ready to impress,” adding, “We support the game’s cultural diplomacy between all countries, in this case East Africa. It will be a monumental feat in the history of East African basketball to include the countries of Somalia and South Sudan.”

The winners from the Africa City Challenge and selected city teams from West and Southern Africa will later be invited to compete in the inaugural ACC-AFRICA tournament. This event will take place annually and is positioned to take advantage of the growing basketball interest amongst Africans between the ages of 16 and 35.

As the exclusive broadcast partner Kwesé Free Sports, will provide live coverage for each of the games.  For the first time basketball fans across the continent can watch East Africa’s best basketball teams battle it out daily as two live games will air on the channel each evening. 

The schedule is as follows:

  • Sunday 11 June (2 Live games to kick off tournament)
  • Monday-Wednesday 12-14 June: 6 Live Games (2 games per evening)
  • Friday 16 June: 2 Live Games (Semi-Finals and ACC Championship Game)

The establishment of Inter-City teams by Africa City Challenge will feed lovers of basketball with charged action and great quality entertainment, creating amicable rivalries and a sports competition that even non-basketball fans can buy into. The tournament will also put a focus on younger players (18-30) years old as opposed to the national teams.

At the moment, all East African cities have a major league that competes every year but they are no African basketball tournaments that offer prize money as an incentive for players to compete. The Africa City Challenge seeks to change this by supporting Inter-cities competition and offering consistent sponsorship.

During the tournament, Kenyan king of hip hop Khaligraph Jones and world renowned DJ Joe Mfalme will be headlining performances of the night. The two will be joined by MC Samora who will also be performing on the last day of the tournament (16th of June 2017).

Ford To Sponsor Nairobi Junior NBA League

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Ford Motor Company (Ford) announced the launch of the first Jr. NBA Nairobi League, an after-school basketball league for Kenyan boys ages 14 and under. 

The league tipped off at Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, Nairobi with WNBA All-Star Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun) in attendance.

The Jr. NBA Nairobi League in partnership with Ford will feature 30 local school teams competing for the league championship in June.  Each school team will represent one of the 30 NBA teams and will receive corresponding NBA team-branded jerseys for their games. Ford is the official partner of the Jr. NBA Nairobi League, while the Kenyan Basketball Federation will support Jr. NBA Nairobi League activities.  Kwesé Sports will provide extensive broadcast coverage of the Jr. NBA Nairobi League.

The Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.  Since the 2015-16 season, the NBA has engaged more than 12 million youth through its basketball participation efforts, with Jr. NBA programs in more than 50 countries.

Similar to the NBA, teams will be divided into two conferences.  The Jr. NBA Nairobi League’s regular season will run through May, with the top eight teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs.  The top two teams from each conference will then meet in the championship game in June to determine the first Jr. NBA Nairobi League champion.

Leveraging the excitement of the NBA, the league will also promote shared values of teamwork, leadership, fitness and healthy living through competitive league play and Jr. NBA youth clinics.

Ogwumike was selected first overall in the 2014 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun.  She was named a WNBA All-Star and the 2014 WNBA Rookie Year in her first season in the league.  She is the sister of 2016 WNBA Most Valuable Player and WNBA Champion Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Kenyan Basketball Teams In Need Of Support Ahead of Qualifiers

The National Men’s and women’s basketball teams have called for more support ahead of the zone 5 qualifiers in Cairo in March 2017.

Speaking during the Smatts Olumbo Memorial Basketball tournament sponsored by gaming platform, mCHEZA, men’s team captain Joseph Khaemba noted that the teams were enthusiastic about beating arch-rivals Egypt and Uganda, adding that tournaments such as the Smatts Memorial enabled them sharpen their skills.

“The players are passionate about winning the zone 5 qualifiers, but we need moral and financial support to get there. Playing in the Smatts Memorial not only paid homage to the most revered coach in the country, but also gave our players the chance to fine tune our skills on the court,” said Joseph. 

 His sentiments were echoed by Coach Mohamed Abdirahman, a celebrated coach in Qatar who felt that the Kenyan team was made up of talented players who needed support when representing the country. 

“Kenya which was once a force in African basketball, with coach Smatts leading the national team. In his memory and in support of the talented players, I urge the country to rally behind them as they prepare for zone 5 qualifiers next month,” said Coach Mohamed.

The two- day tournament which honours the memory of legendary Eagle Wings coach Thomas ‘Smatts’ Olumbo saw KPA dunk SWOT 56-48 in a highly charged women’s game.  Griffin Ligare shot the last basket that gave Kenya team a narrow 3 point lead against Ulinzi Alpha ending the game at 49-46. In the high Schools category, FAM Foundation from Kayole beat Mathare Slum Dunk 42- 17. Griffin Ligare of Thunder and Salma Akinyi of Uganda were named most valuable players in the man’s and women’s categories respectively.

While thanking mCHEZA for their continued support, event organizer Nellie Odera noted an increase in the interest in the tournament, and called for the national team to be taken as seriously as other national teams.

 “The national team players are determined to win at the qualifiers. In the same way that athletics and other fields are given the desired attention, so should basketball, because of the immense pool if talent representing the country,” noted Nellie.

The event was sponsored by gaming platform mCHEZA to a tune of Ksh 100,000 as part of the corporate initiative of supporting talent on the country.  mCEZA Head of Communications Emily Manjeru noted that nurturing talent was at the heart of the gaming platform, adding that the continued support aimed to make Kenya’s sports personalities competitive in the global stage.

“Sponsoring this tournament is part of our long-term commitment to nurturing talent in  the country, by giving the players a platform to prepare for the upcoming zone 5 tournament, we hope it plays a part in regaining Kenya’s lost glory in basketball,” noted Emily. 

Until his demise in 2014, Smatts was head coach of Eagle Wings, scooping them bronze in the FIBA Africa Women Club Championships held in Morocco in 2013. His passion for the youth saw Laiser Hill Academy win Kenya Schools boys and East Africa boys Basketball Championships twice. 

His 20- year coaching career also budded players in corporate teams such as Telcom Kenya, Cooperative Bank (Men), Barclays Eagles and Posts and Telecommunications KPTC (men)

Lebron James Named Sportsperson Of The Year

Cleveland Cavaliers frontman Lebron James has been named sports illustrated’s sportsperson of the year for the second time.

James previously won the award in 2012, thus making him just the second athlete since its inception in 1954 to win it twice.  The only other person to win the award twice is Tiger Woods.

 Sports Illustrated has been handing out since 1954 to “the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.” 

James finally, brought a championship home to Cleveland, and he earned himself NBA Finals MVP honors to boot.

In addition to LeBron’s achievements on the court, his societal contributions, charity work and philanthropy also contributed to him being named the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year.

Lebron took to twitter to express his gratitude saying that he was “humbled” by the honor, which he added “belongs to everyone around me.” Included on that list are his family, fans, team and the children he helps through his LeBron James Family foundation.

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LeBron will be presented with the award at the Sports Illustrated Gala at Barclay’s Center on December 12th. 

NBA Basketball Foundation Opens Second Basketball Court in Kenya

Back in 2003, NBA Basketball foundation Giants of Africa (GOA) was formed with the aim of making a difference for kids in Africa using basketball to educate and enrich the lives of the African youth by providing quality facilities, coaching and instruction.

They did a great job last time and have returned to continue what they started, this time setting up yet another facility in Nairobi at Kibera’s Joseph Kangethe Grounds.

“The county government has gracefully allocated us land in Kibera where we built the court together with a 500 capacity sitting tribune,” said GOA Kenya representative Abel Nson.

In partnership with the Nairobi County Government, the court’s grand opening which happened this past Saturday saw youth basketball teams that had initially participated in the Governor’s basketball tournament early in the year compete in a mini-tournament under the eyes of GOA coaches.

Afterwards, GOA’s annual training camp was kicked off with fifty high school basketball players across Kenya being put through their paces at Brookhouse School.

This was all part of a three-day camp, which started on Saturday August 20th and which is a part of a marathon series of outreach activities that GOA has been carrying out across Africa as it seeks to impact the lives of young players both on and off the court.

The participating players are drawn from various schools including Laiser Hill, Utumishi Academy, St. Andrews Turi, Kisumu Boys and Aga Khan Academy Mombasa.

Other African countries where the camps are being held are Rwanda, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Botswana.

“Off the court, they are taught life skill sessions such as how to conduct themselves in society, to be better citizens and to understand the importance of education so that they can get ahead in life,” added Nson.

(Picture at the top: Blair Mwanga from Utumishi Academy warms up at Brookhouse School)

Girls and Boys Teams from Spodeco-Kayole- during drills1

(Girls and Boys Teams from Spodeco-Kayole- during drills)

Lino Lual Ayai in the middle warms up at the training camp at Brookhouse School -1

(Lino Lual Ayai in the middle warms up at the training camp at Brookhouse School)

Players, fans, and the community-1

(Players, fans, and the community)