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Petro de Luanda fires head coach Jose Neto, African players continue to shine at the annual Nike Hoop Summit, and Rwandese national Bella Murekatete is named to the 2024 Women’s College All-Star game

JOSE Neto is out at Angola’s Petro de Luanda, African youth prospects shine at the 2024 edition of the Nike Hoop Summit, and Bella Murekatete named to the Washington Women’s College All-star game.

AFTER disappointing results in the conference stage of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), Angolan side Petro de Luanda have fired head coach Jose Neto.

The Brazilian head coach has been with Petro for four seasons and is a former BAL Coach of the Year. However, he experienced tensions with Petro de Luanda’s front office and multiple players on the squad leading up to their most recent outing in the Kalahari Conference.

While the decision to part ways with Neto may have surprised some fans, the latest outcome following a fourth-place finish in the 2023 season and a second-place finish in 2022 made the move a likelihood. Petro de Luanda closed the Kalahari Conference with a 2-2 record, raising questions about the team’s ability to maintain their previous level of success in the league.

During the post-game presser, Neto took full responsibility for the team’s performance and surprise loss to Cape Town Tigers (84-78).

“They were hungrier than [us]…I’m responsible. This is the first two times that we lost two games in the conference. This is the first time that we did not prepare better to be here,” he said.

Spaniard Sergio Valdeolmillos has been named the team’s new coach, with a one-year contract.

The annual Nike Hoop Summit – a showcase of America’s top men’s and women’s high school seniors playing against the best under-19 players in the world – took place in Portland, Oregon on April 13th and once again a significant pool of African talent was present to impress professional and collegiate scouts. This year’s edition had 8 African prospects representing Nigeria, DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, South Sudan and Ghana.

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Leading the under-19 men South Sudanese national Khaman Maluach (a Duke commit), Cameroonian Ulrich Chomchea and Congolese-Jamaican, 17-year-old Anicet Dybantsa Jr. Dybantsa is a small forward who has captured the interest of basketball enthusiasts, worldwide. Gatorade Player of the Year in Massachusetts and a gold medal with Team USA’s U16 Squad at the FIBA World Cup made 2023 an impressive year for the young player. He is slated as a potential future No.1 pick in the 2025 NBA draft.

Wrenwyck Ijiwoye and Vivian Iwuchukwu represented Nigeria in Oregon. Despite her small stature at 5’6, Ijiwoye is a standout player, with a good fusion of strength, skill and agility. She recently committed to Stanford University, joining a long line of Nigerian Stanford graduates like the Ogwumike sisters.

During an exciting “March Madness” season which saw women’s basketball popularity soar in leaps and bounds, Rwandese national and Washington State women’s basketball senior Bella Murekatete participated in the 2024 Women’s College All-Star game joining other seniors from across the US, in a national contest broadcast on ESPN.

Murekatete helped Team Liberman to a 95-88 win over Team Miller leading with a team-high 7 rebounds. The star centre averaged 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks this past season and became the all-time program leader in career rebounds (990), blocks (188), games played, and games started. Before the season, she was named to the prestigious 2024 Lisa Leslie Award Watch List and named to the 2023-2023 Preseason All-Pac-12 team. The 23-year-old also currently plays for the Rwandese national team.

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By SILALEI SHANI, BIRD STORY AGENCY

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