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Former NBA player picked as new Senegal coach, state-of-the-art stadium for Kinshasa

FORMER NBA player Desagana Diop has been picked as the new Senegal coach, according to a leading sports platform, while the Democratic Republic of Congo has signed a contract for a new, 20,000-seater "Kinshasa Arena" basketball stadium as interest in African basketball continues to grow, writes former Kenyan basketball captain Silalei Shani, in this week's African basketball review.

SENEGAL’S technical bench will get some new faces as they continue their journey after the recent firing of Boniface Ndong by Senegal’s basketball federation.

As per ESPN writer, Marc J. Spears, G League Westchester Knicks Head Coach and former NBA Center Desagana Diop
will be appointed as the incoming head coach.

Senegal, who are ranked 33 in FIBA World rankings, lost to Egypt and Congo during the recently concluded 3rd window of qualifiers after a strenuous journey to Alexandria for the tournament. Former head coach, Ndong accepted his dismissal but sought to provide
clarification on what happened during the outing by issuing a press release.

Among Ndong’s many grievances, aimed at the national team’s technical director, Moustapha Gaye and other members of the leadership team, were incitement of division among the players by management and impossible travel schedules.

The team had to travel through Casablanca to Istanbul – where they were forced to spend the night due to visa issues – and then on to Doha before arriving at their destination, Alexandria.

“After 61 hours on the road and 02 nights spent in airports to travel from Dakar to Alexandria (Egypt) and despite the very difficult travel conditions, we decided to continue in Alexandria and play the tournament to honour a request from the federation, (and) Senegalese basketball players and prevent FIBA from sanctioning Senegal.”

Ndong, however, expressed strong pride in his country and blamed mediocre management for the national team’s problems,

“I am a patriot, I love my country to death, I have given a lot to Senegal and I will continue to do so. I want Senegal to be the best basketball country in Africa and we have the capacity and the potential… It hurts me very much that Senegalese basketball does
not work because of the mediocrity of our leaders.”

Meanwhile, the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers is set to begin, with Tunisia
(Monastir) and Cote D’Ivoire (Abidjan) hosting, in August. The stage will be played round-robin-style with the three highest-placed teams from each group qualifying for the World Cup 2023. Group E will have Cote D’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Angola, Nigeria,
Uganda, and Guinea going against each other in Abidjan. Group F will have South Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, DR Congo, Senegal, and Cameroon playing in Monastir.

In youth basketball, the FIBA U-17 Men’s World Cup came to a close with the two participating African nations – Egypt and Mali, finishing 10th and 15th respectively. Canada defeated Egypt 92-70 in the seeding classification game despite a strong showing by Karim Elgizawy, who finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, and Seifeldin Hendawy, who had a team-high of 23 points.

The U-17 Women’s Basketball World Cup is currently underway in Hungary (until July 17th) with representation from Mali and Egypt, once again. Mali faces a tough Group D that includes Germany, the USA and New Zealand. Egyp, in Group C, will face
Korea, Spain, and Canada.

On a very positive note, the Democratic Republic of Congo recently signed a contract with the Turkish company, SUMMA, for the construction of the “Kinshasa Arena” which will be built in the Congolese capital. It will include, among other things, a multipurpose sports facility with 20,000 seats.

Selim Bora, president of SUMMA, has clearly seen an opportunity in African sports, as it was his company that carried out the construction of two similar state-of-the-art stadiums – the Dakar Arena and the Kigali Aren.

“That of Kinshasa will be the biggest and the most beautiful among the others, We are happy and waiting for the start”, Bora said, clearly indicating the company’s intent to support the rise of professional basketball in Africa.

/bird story agency