After a few hiccups and just under a two month delay, the Basketball National League – BNL finally kicked off last week with a bang. Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Deputy Minister were there to greet players and officials opening the professional league.
I have been following the games on Super Sport Select channel 210 and from what I have seen I am not impressed with the level of quality in the league. I flick a channel to the NBA or even Euro basketball and I see a whole different level of professionalism.
French Coach Franck Belen who is here from France to help out our national wheelchair basketball teams and establish the first woman’s wheelchair national team describes South African basketball to driving a car with one speed.
What does Coach Franck, who just so happens to be an able bodied professional coach in Europa, and coached at the highest level mean by this? Well, typically basketball should be played at different tempos and with a whole lot of strategy. If the offensive team is smart enough, clever strategy will lure the defence into exactly what you want them to do, exposing an opportunity to capitalise.
So the question begs, when will the BNL be good enough to attract the big sponsors? More importantly what will it take to get the BNL to a level at which we can at least compete with Africa?
Structure – It is now the duty of Basketball South Africa BSA to do some work and implement structures from the top down. There needs to be a mandate for schools, clubs and provinces to set up a system which will help nurture young talent. District, provincial and national structures need to be implemented which will provide a platform to showcase these young talented players. All these structures will have a funnel effect in giving the BNL the best players the country has to offer.
Level of Competence – There is one thing I know about “ballers” both past and present is that they are some of the most passionate and giving people in South Africa. In a sport where there is little or no money (yet) players, coaches, referees have been soldiering on and giving back to the communities for years.
As passionate as these people are, it is time to equip them with the tools for them to become great ambassadors for basketball. The secret lies in making sure the BNL and BSA enforce that in order to be a part of official bodies in any matter, that you have the correct FIBA level qualifications. This extends to all coaches, referees and admin officials.
Technology- In order to improve a company’s performance, you sometimes need a team of forensics to go where most men fear to go. BNL General Manager Dali Dzingwa who is not a stranger to hard work or scared of long 14 hour days, understands this all too well. He has been looking for ways to improve the BNL each year in one way by the use of team video and forensic analysis.
An example of this technology would be, let’s say the coach wants the team to press with fast breaks every time they get the ball, what if they knew post-match that of their 18 attempts per quarter of fast break ended up on only a 30 percent conversion rate? This would mean that every time they performed a fast break they would score one basket for every five attempts.
Now imagine knowing the strategy which allows your team to score the most points and why? On the reverse side, imagine knowing your opponent’s weakness before they even know it. Technology has become a big factor in sport and by knowing, teams can improve and push the level of competition to new heights.
Patience is the key in incubating a new organization and I trust the league is in good hands and it can only get better, one strategy at a time. If you have no plans for your weekend, get yourself down to Wembley stadium, south of Johannesburg, pick a team to follow and enjoy what the league has to offer.
Do you think the department of Sports and Recreation is doing enough to improve the level of baskteball in South Africa? Comment Below or on Twitter