NBA star brings hope to SA youngsters

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to Thabo Sefolosha

Munya Vomo

“The beautiful thing about coming home is always the welcome. I can never get enough of that and I appreciate it,” said National Basketball Association (NBA) star, Thabo Sefolosha, who plays for the Oklahoma Thunder.

Since the NBA season only starts in a month or so, Sefolosha formed part of the line-up that came to South Africa for the Basketball Without Borders project.

The project aims to find basketball players with potential and provide them with the tools to hone their skills in the hope that they will become good enough to play in the top leagues in the world including the NBA. Out of the 62 youngster who took part, five South Africans made the cut.

“The thing is, I was once that kid who dreamt of being a professional basketball player and although I didn’t have a programme like this to get me into the NBA, I can only imagine what it could have done in developing me when I was younger if my peers and I had been exposed to it,” he said.

Most NBA fans across South Africa are in mourning about the loss of ESPN, the exclusive NBA league broadcaster, and Sefolosha did not make it any easier for them when he whetted the appetite for the upcoming season.

“We struggled in the last season, but I think it was our best season yet. We were marred by injuries, but we did very well and I just hope we maintain that momentum this coming season,” he said.

With all his peers breaking into TV through various reality series, Sefolosha laughed at the prospect of being one such celebrity.

“I don’t think reality TV is for me. I will never have time outside of basketball to do anything other than be with my family and relax. We are always on the road so whenever I can I will try to stay home so I am not about to take on some more work,” he said.

Born in Switzerland to a South African father, Sefolosha has family in Pretoria and visits as often as he can. He even has local favourites when it comes to music.

“I love Black Coffee’s music and even when I am in the States I pump it because it reminds me of home,” he said.

As a Laker’s fan I had to ask him what he thought about the current state of one of Oklahoma’s foes and he was honest to say that he, too, is a fan of the team’s star player, Kobe Bryant.

“I think we all admire the way he has managed to be consistent over the years. Being talented is one thing, but being able to sustain that gift over a long period of time is just insane. He is the best of our generation. The team as a whole will need to work out its issues, but they can bounce back as soon as that’s done,” he said.

As it stands, Supersport have stepped in to fill the gap left by ESPN and will broadcast all the action an NBA fan could wish for.

Plans include the airing of up to three games a week during the upcoming 2013-2014 season, as well as a courtside seat to the action when the NBA All-Star, Playoffs and Finals games take place.

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