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Gabon's Stephane Lasme discusses revival of basketball back home
PORT-GENTIL (Gabon) - For over a decade, Stephane Lasme did a bit of everything to put his country Gabon's name on the international basketball map.
The Port-Gentil native had a short-lived NBA career with the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors in the 2007-08 season, represented his country multiple times, but it was in Europe where he reached the pinnacle of his career.
From being named EuroLeague Defensive Player of the Year (2013) to winning domestic league titles in Greece, Israel, Serbia, Turkey, Lasme always kept a close eye on the development of basketball back in Gabon.
When Gabon called him up to suit up for his country at the FIBA AfroBasket 2005, Lasme responded accordingly.
Ten years later, the 2.03m (6ft 8in) power forward proved fundamental helping Gabon advance to the knockout stages as they reached the 2015 FIBA AfroBasket Quarter-Finals thanks to a shocking win over Cape Verde.
"This was the biggest thing that has ever happened to Gabonese basketball," he said at the time.
At the age of 37, Lasme feels accomplished in his basketball career, but in this interview with FIBA.basketball he insists that there is a lot more to be achieved.
You are Gabon's most celebrated basketball player. What kind of legacy would you like to leave for future basketball generations in your country?
My approach to life can speak for itself. I am GabonBeast on and off the court. I have been at it since I was still a kid back in my home town in Port-Gentil. Ask about me! On a more serious note: I would like to help them believe that any dream is achievable. With dedication and hard work nothing is impossible.
I was born during a time when making a living through professional sport was a dreamer's goal, fool gold so they thought. Don't let people tell you who you are, show them who you are.
Stephane Lasme averaged 11 points a seven rebounds per game at FIBA AfroBasket 2015 as Gabon reached the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time
Gabon have participated in two FIBA AfroBasket editions in 2005 and 2015. With the next African event next year, Gabon will miss the tournament for the second time in a row. Is inconsistency damaging your national team's AfroBasket aspirations?
I could agree with that, consistency in organization. In the past 10 years it has been difficult to develop basketball due to the lack of infrastructure and organization. It takes a lot of work, time and preparation for a national team to get good results and it has been a problem all over the continent in my opinion. More African countries are pushing for development in all sports, and Gabon is relatively small, which makes me believe it should be easier to see results. My hope is that Gabon realises that progress is happening now and doesn’t stay behind.
Gabonese players celebrate after their win over Cape Verde
You are one of the African players who achieved a huge success at club level, especially Europe, but whose national team didn't register as much success. What's your view on that?
To me, it's still that same issue of organization. Fundamentals of basketball all go back to repetition, consistency and organization. Organization I would say is our biggest problem. It surely is not talent and athleticism. Gabon is full of talent and needs attention and work.
One other issue has been that national team qualifiers in Africa never matched my schedule in Europe.
You have been a professional basketball for more than a decade. Do you feel accomplished in your career as a basketball player?
I do feel accomplished. It wouldn't be right for me to say otherwise. There are basketball goals that I have yet to reach. Call me a dreamer. But I believe there is still plenty of time for those goals to be achieved.
Can you name five top promising Gabonese players and explain why that is?
It has been hard to keep up due to that lack of infrastructure development back home plus me being away.
Andy Paul Darel, Tracy Bratney Emane, Patrick Maillard, Edgard Bouenguere and Aworet Jarel are some really good upcoming young ball players who have been brought to my attention. There might be better I am looking forward, I need to find out for myself once the world opens again.
OFFICIAL: The Miami HEAT have signed two-way player Chris Silva to an NBA contract. pic.twitter.com/nCSuSnRutY— x - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 15, 2020
Chris Silva has become the second Gabonese in the NBA. He recently signed a deal with the Miami Heat. How can Silva's NBA career benefit basketball in Gabon?
Chris is reviving Gabon basketball with his achievements. Through his work ethic and play at the highest level, he can further bring attention to the talent that we have in Gabon, convince more people to put more effort into the infrastructure and also promote the development of basketball in our country.