Denyssen reminisces about BAL experience

Denyssen: It was once in a lifetime experience

QUINTIN Denyssen has been a trailblazer in South African basketball. Having made his name as a player, he made the cross over to being a commentator. And just like the game gave a lot to him as a player, it recently opened a new door for him in his current career.

Denyssen, popular for his commentary in South Africa’s Basketball National League on broadcast SuperSport, got the opportunity of a lifetime. He joined American sports broadcast giant ESPN for a similar role at the recently concluded Basketball Africa League tournament.

Quintin Denyssen
Quintin Denyssen, at the back, poses with his colleagues.

The former South African national team player explained that the NBA had followed him and were impressed with his presentation skills, which earned him the trip to Kigali, Rwanda.

“The opportunity came directly from the NBA. They had obviously tracked the work I do on radio and TV,” said Denyssen. “They said there was a selection criterion, in which they observed a lot of individuals. We were assessed based on what we say, how they say it and how we pose. So based on that, I got the call.

“It was a pleasant surprise. It’s surreal to get an offer like that. I grasped it with both hands. I mean, who would not want to be a commentator for an elite showcase of basketball on the African continent?”

After absorbing the news, the 40-year-old, who has been in the broadcast business for eight years, knew he had to prove himself on the big stage.

First of all, to get the call… you have to pinch yourself. Secondly, now you have to do the work.  Everything was as I expected it to be. From operations to the technical officials and the players, everybody will probably sing from the same hymn sheet about what the tournament experience felt like,” said Denyssen.



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This being the first BAL tournament, there is sometimes nervousness that creeps in. Even for commentators. For Denyssen, there were not any as he was ready from the moment. His first rodeo, was the group stage game between tournament winners Zamalek of Egypt and Mozambique’s Ferroviario de Maputo.

Derrick Rose once used these words in an interview: ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance’,” said Denyssen. “So all the prepping and the hard work I put in got me ready for this moment. Experience also plays a part. I have been in broadcasting for a long time, so my confidence levels were where they needed to be.

“I hope the people who tuned in appreciated the work we put in and that we delivered what was  seen on tv the right way.”

On the playing front, two teams impressed Denyssen. He enjoyed commentating on games involving Zamalek and Ferroviario. The latter team hold a special place in his heart, as he featured for the Mozambican club during his playing days. While the Egyptians captured his imagination because of their playing personnel.

Quintin Denyssen
Quintin Denyssen with a colleague at the BAL tournament. Pictures: Supplied by Quintin Denyssen.

“I think all the Zamalek games I commentated, I enjoyed. As you know, they have some nice pieces. I cannot forget the Ferro games. I mean, come on, I played there,” said the former Wits University player. “Following those two teams was a lot of fun.”

Denyssen feels he has also been a part of a history-making process.

“From an objective standpoint, all of the games were awesome,” said Denyssen. “It was a once in a lifetime experience. My voice is a part of history. I’m grateful. I got a lot of good feedback from people that were watching.

“Commentating is like refereeing. If you do a good job, nobody is going to say anything. So while unexcpected, I welcome the compliments.”

Denyssen, shared his impressions of the overall play at the tournament. In his opinion, only a few teams came ready to compete. Others were trying to figure it out at the tournament. Also, a number players that were signed by clubs, were either not compatible or did not get enough preparation time with their teams.

“My takeaway from the tournament is that you cannot buy success. Some of the players contracted had not been with their teams long enough,” said Denyssen. The teams that did the best in the tournament were the ones that played together long enough, battle-tested teams.

“They chose their players according to their system. The teams I’m talking about are Zamalek, Petro and Monastir. They were a cut above the rest. I’m sure you watched their games. They have a core that has played together for a long time, and it paid dividends in the end.”

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