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bird’s African Basketball Wrap: Pascal Siakam traded, Clare Akamanzi to start as NBA Africa CEO

IN African basketball news, Toronto Raptor’s Cameroonian player Pascal Siakam has traded to the Indiana Pacers after an eight-year tenure with the Canadians, Afrobasket qualifiers are coming to Tunisia and Egypt and seasoned business executive Clare Akamanzi steps into a new role with the NBA.

AFRICA’S basketball calendar for the new year is starting to take shape, with the Basketball Africa League kicking off in March and the 2025 Afrobasket qualifiers scheduled for February 23-25.

The host countries for the opening window of this edition of Afrobasket will be Tunisia and Egypt, with Tunisia hosting Groups B and E and the latter hosting the first games of Group D. The remaining groups will play their qualifying games in November.

Teams heading to Tunisia include Group B’s Cape Verde, Nigeria, and Uganda, together with the winners of Africa Zone 1 qualifiers, while Group E is comprised of hosts Tunisia, who will be joined by Angola, Guinea, and Kenya.

Kenya has already released a 30-man provisional squad as the federation announced the appointment of Grant Wallace as head coach, with former national team coach Cliff Owuor as technical director. The last time Kenya had a national coach was under the direction of Liz Mills, who helped lead the team to their first Afrobasket outing in 28 years.

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“Coach Wallace will be in Kenya from February. We are looking to tap on his experience to bring diverse coaching styles, perspectives and valuable insights into global trends and competition,” acting Secretary General Angela Luchivya shared in the federation’s communique introducing the tactician.

“He will help us open up networks for our players, and coaches and attract attention from sponsors, scouts and global basketball enthusiasts” the statement said.

READ:  bird's African Basketball Wrap: Kenya upsets Egypt at the FIBA Africa Cup 3x3 games, NBA legend Ron Harper visits Kenya for NBA Africa office launch; Afrobasket qualifiers draw in Johannesburg

With former NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams’ tenure ending in 2023, Rwandese business executive Clare Akamanzi has taken the helm to lead the next chapter of the NBA’s presence on the continent. Akamanzi, who holds a master’s degree from Harvard University’s School of Government and is a seasoned business executive and international trade and investment lawyer, will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development initiatives in Africa.

Her role as the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board saw Rwanda invest heavily in the sports industry, together with the private sector. The NBA is hoping her experience will help grow its presence in Africa, through grassroots development programs, coaching clinics, media distribution and corporate partnerships.

“Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her ideal executive to lead our business in Africa… Under Clare’s leadership, we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities, and lives across the continent,” NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum shared after the announcement.

Akamanzi will begin her assignment on January 24th and expressed delight in the new role.

“The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum,” she said.

A change of guard takes place within the NBA’s Toronto Raptors with the trade of Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam to the Indiana Pacers after an eight-year tenure with the Canadian side. In an emotional press conference, Raptor’s President, Masai Ujiri, who hand-picked Pascal Siakam to join his team, discussed the trade that also saw OG Anunoby being traded to the New York Knicks.

“Two African guys that won a championship. I share that with (Pascal). A lot of people don’t know that when Pascal came to Basketball Without Borders (BWB) in South Africa, he had been admitted to a pastoral school in Cameroon and only came to BWB to see his sister, who lives in South Africa…that guy’s success is my success no matter where he is.”

In his eight-season period with the Raptors, Siakam achieved an NBA championship, two All-Star nominations, two All-NBA teams and a Most Improved Player award, a testament to his impact on the Canadian team.

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By SILALEI SHANI, BIRD STORY AGENCY

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