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FIBA U18 African Championships have produced some bright talents over the years
LEEDS (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - Over the past few years, the FIBA U18 African Championships have produced some bright talents, but where are they now?
For some of them, the tournament has served as a platform to reach new heights professionally, and a quick search across top clubs and leagues around the world tells exactly how the tournament has become a game-changing for some.
As FIBA Africa confirmed last week Egypt as host of the 2020 edition of the tournament, expectations are high to witness the introduction of future stars of African basketball.
From key members of their respective national teams to an NBA champion, former FIBA U18 African Championships stars have left marks across the globe.
Serge Ibaka, (Congo/Spain)
The South African city of Durban, the site of the 2006 edition of the FIBA U18 African Championship, became Ibaka's first major basketball stage before embarking on a successful professional in Spain and the US.
And although his native Republic of Congo finished fourth, Ibaka who would turn 17 a month later, led all players in scoring in rebounds with an average of 18.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.
Drafted by the now extinct NBA outfit Seattle Supersonic in the 2008 Draft, the Brazzaville-native won his first NBA ring with Toronto Raptors in 2019.
Serge Ibaka was one of the highlights at FIBA U18 African Championship 2006
While he regularly hosts basketball camps back in Congo, Ibaka represents Spain internationally, having helped them to FIBA EuroBasket 2011 title.
Back in 2012, Maputo was too small for Amin's greatness.
And even though Egypt - who were perfect throughout the tournament before a disastrous Semi-Final against Cote d'Ivoire - finished third, the then 17-year-old point guard's talent couldn't have gone unnoticed.
Ehab Amin playing defense against Cote d'Ivoire
Named MVP of the FIBA U18 African Championship 2012, Amin embarked on an US collegiate career playing for Oregon University and Corpus Christi.
Amin last year began his professional career with Egypt powerhouse Al Ahly, He made his debut with Egypt's senior team at FIBA AfroBasket 2015.
Bruno Fernando and Silvio D'Sousa (Angola)
For many, Fernando and Sousa represent the upcoming new generation of Angolan basketball.
They are both 21-year-old, and four years ago they were one the reasons Angolan clinched the FIBA U18 African Championship in Kigali, Rwanda.
Silvio was named MVP and was joined by Fernando in the All-Tournament team.
While Silvio is a senior at Kansas University, Fernando, last year, became the first Angolan to play in the NBA after being drafted by the Philadelphia 76rs before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks.
Silvio and Fernando have represented the Angolan senior team before, and a lot is expected from them, especially with the rising number of Angolans joining US basketball colleges.
Siriman Kanoute and Oumar Ballo (Mali)
Mali shocked the world basketball fraternity last year after knocking down higher-ranked teams before finishing second at the FIBA U19 Basketball World 2019, but if we rewind our memories to Africa youth championships, then no surprise here.
Both Kanoute and and Ballo highlighted the FIBA U19 World Cup 2019 All-Star team.
And although Ballo was relatively quiet at the U18 African Championship two years ago, which served as a preparation for their success the following year in Heraklion, Kanoute was huge for the eventual champions Mali.
Kanoute led his country Mali in scoring with 13.8 points per game while also averaging a team-high 5.3 assists.
Ballo currently plays for Gonzaga University while, Kanoute has recently joined Nancy in France's Pro B.
And the list of talents revealed at FIBA U18 African Championships goes on and on, including Senegal internationals Thierno Niang and Biram Faye, Solomon Alabi (Nigeria), Algeria's best player of the moment Mohamed Harat, Yanick Moreira of Angola, Central African Republic's Jimmy Djimrabaye, and 2008 MVP and Egypt international Amr Gendy.
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