Out of Africa (1) – The Manila Times Online

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ROMY P. MARIÑAS

It seems that scouts from the country’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) head for faraway Africa if they want to beef up their respective schools’ basketball line-up.

Gone are the days when young standouts are recruited from the University of the Visayas or Southwestern University in the Visayas—two of the leading breeding grounds for top basketball players some of whom eventually make it to the NCAA or the UAAP or even the Philippine national team (Fernandez and Martires, to name two Filipino basketball greats).

Today, the local scouts deliver “imports” from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, all football-crazy countries who apparently can spare some tall, really tall cagers to play in the NCAA.

In the association’s Season 93, there is a total of nine African players: Arellano University, 1, Elie Ongolo-Ongolo (Cameroon); Emilio Aguinaldo College, 1, Hamadou Laminou (Cameroon); College of Saint Benilde, 1, Clement Leutcheu (Senegal); Jose Rizal University, 2, AbdulWahab AbdulRazak (Ghana) and Ayiagnigni Poutouochi Abdoulao (also from Ghana); Lyceum of the Philippines University or LPU, 1, Mike Harry Nzeusseu (Cameroon); San Beda College, 2, Armand Germain Noah (Nigeria) and Pierre Donald Tankoua (Cameroon); and University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 1, Prince Nnamdi Eze (Nigeria).

Three member schools of the NCAA have no foreign players, namely, Mapua Institute of Technology, Colegio San Juan de Letran and San Sebastian College-Recoletos.

Presumably, these young Africans are brought here to the Philippines for their talent (Nigeria and Senegal basketball players have had Olympic Games experience although results from their participation were disappointing).

On a brighter note, Nigeria is a former Olympic gold-medal winner in football.

Also presumably, Mr. Ongolo-Ongolo or Mr. Eze came to the Philippines not just for basketball but, more important, for formal studies that hopefully would be useful for them upon their return to Cameroon or Nigeria.

Obviously, the two of them and the seven other African basketball players make a difference for their respective teams, with Mr. Nzeusseu, for example, partly responsible for the LPU Pirates staying undefeated via a historic 18-game sweep of the double-round robin eliminations.

Presumably, too, the absence of an “imported” player has hurt Mapua as, at this writing, it is at the bottom of the standings among 10 teams.

Letran and San Sebastian, meanwhile, are also down there and it would be surprising if they made any progress as Season 93 draws to a close.

As long as the young and crack recruits from Africa are brought here for basketball and education, it’s all for the better for Philippine basketball.

One without the other would not be good for the global village.





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