Tigers ready to earn their stripes in BAL qualifiers
BAL a chance for players to become super stars For Cape Town Tigers big man Pieter Prinsloo, South Africa is where his heart has always been. His allegiance and patriotism run deep, skin deep. Embellished on the Tigers captain’s right arm are tattoos of the national flag and the big five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant […].
BAL a chance for players to become super stars
For Cape Town Tigers big man Pieter Prinsloo, South Africa is where his heart has always been. His allegiance and patriotism run deep, skin deep.
Embellished on the Tigers captain’s right arm are tattoos of the national flag and the big five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), elements that celebrate his South African roots.
Prinsloo always held the ambition of representing South Africa through the Proteas cricket team, but his life took a different turn when he moved to the United States, where he picked up basketball. Despite living most of his life in the US and playing professionally in different parts of the world, Prinsloo never forgot the country of his birth.
“As a kid growing up here, I always thought I would play for the SA national cricket team. It did not work out that way because I left for the States. For me, this (South Africa) is my home. It’s where I am from, and I will never forget that,” said 29-year old Prinsloo. “Soon as I got out of the house and was allowed to do my own thing, the first thing I did was to get a tattoo of the South African flag.
“For me, that’s my heritage. I also have tattoos of the big five. The tattoos on my right arm are a celebration of my heritage. So wherever I am in the world, and people take note of the tattoos, I let them know this is my representation of home.”
Prinsloo knows all about representing South Africa at the highest level. He has donned the green and gold vest at the 2017 AfroBasket co-hosted by Senegal and Tunisia. Now he will have another opportunity to represent his country, but this time in the colours of the Tigers, who beat Jozi Nuggets 76-70 in September to become the new National Men’s club champions.
The Cape-based club will take on four Southern African teams in the Zone VI Basketball Africa League (BAL) qualifiers from 19- 24 October in Johannesburg at the University of Johannesburg Campus in Soweto.
Pretoria-West born Prinsloo believes hosting the games and hopefully qualifying for the BAL presents an opportunity for Tigers to help raise basketball’s profile in the country and for players to make a name for themselves.
For us, it’s great! It’s an opportunity for guys to become superstars. Some of the guys realise that. When they walk in the street, they will be recognisable. It also means long-term security. It means guys can change their lives and futures,” said Prinsloo, who experienced his bit of the limelight. “I have experienced that playing in countries overseas, where somebody would say ‘hey Prinsloo can I get a picture.’ So, for me, it’s normal to be on a poster because something is going here or there.”
“For South Africa… it’s probably the richest and most talked about country in Africa, but in sport, we ain’t doing sh*t. Our rugby is up and down. Cricket has its scandals. Soccer has not been relevant in, who knows for how long? So we know by what we are doing, we can become a big-time face in this country.”
View this post on Instagram
Unfortunately for Tigers, they will not host the BAL qualifiers in their home city, and according to Prinsloo this is a missed opportunity for the club and its fans. He also felt the tournament organisers made it impossible for the Tigers to host the event.
“We would have loved to have the games here. We are the SA champs, and we are from Cape Town, but the organisers made it a complicated process in trying to host it here. They had a lot of requirements that we felt were excessive, but they have their rules, so we left it at that,” said Prinsloo. “We would have preferred to have it in Cape Town. Our fanbase is here. It also could have helped us with our branding, marketing of the game, and we could grow our support even more.
“We do have a fanbase in Johannesburg because of the growth of the game, and people see the work we have done.”
The issue of where games should held, has not been a distraction for the Tigers players, as they have continued preparing for the BAL qualifying tournament. They have also added some quality players to help them reach their objective. The only stumbling block could be the lack of meaningful competition since being crowned national champions.
“Training wise, things have been going good. We have incorporated a couple more pieces. Jared (Harrington) is included again after missing out on the championships because of paperwork. We have also filled our African slot with Evans (Ganapamo) and Ben Uzoh, who played with us at the championships. Billy Preston from the States has also joined the team,” said Prinsloo, a former Marist Red Foxes player.
“We have not had many practice games, but in training, things are coming together. The talents we have brought in are starting to click with the rest of the team. There is good chemistry. Guys are starting to understand each other.
“It’s been hard to find competitive scrimmages. We get better runs going five-on-five in the team at training because of the size and skill. It’s been hard to find a similar kind of talent that we will face in Joburg.”
The talent that lies in wait for the Tigers comes in the form of Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique), Matero Magic (Zambia), Mercenaries (Zimbabwe) and Roche Bois Warriors (Mauritius).
Prinsloo is familiar with Beira, having had a stint with the club. He also provided some insight into what the Mercenaries and Matero will bring to the table.
“Beira is a team that likes to press. They play at a fast tempo. So teams that press don’t handle it very well because they don’t want that pressure. I know some of the guys from Zim. They might have some guys who play here and there in SA. The Zambians play with a quicker small team,” said the former Universidad de Concepcion player.
“I don’t see it causing complications for us. We have a balanced team; we can go big or small at any time. There is size and skill in every position. A guy like me can play small forward, power forward and centre. We have a team that can go quicker or slower. We don’t want to play the opposition’s game. We want to play our game.”
While the qualifying process is still a long one, Prinsloo who has won championships in El Salvador and Nigeria feels that winning the BAL would add another feather on the cap.
“For me, on top of what I have accomplished in my career… I have played in champions league in South America and competed against some the best players in the world. So, winning BAL would add another championship to my resume. To bring that trophy back home and to Cape Town, that would be crazy. It would be an honour,” concluded Prinsloo.