Dynamo Basketball Club

FUS and Dynamo steal the show on opening night

THE opening night of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) dished up upsets, with home club Cape Town Tigers and tournament favourites Petro de Luanda, suffering defeats to Dynamo Basketball Club and FUS Rabat respectively.

Game 1: FUS Rabat’s bench steals the show

In their debut game in the BAL’s Kalahari conference, FUS de Rabat defeated Petro de Luanda 82-73, handing them their third straight loss. Soufiane Benmhine, reflecting on the game, credited the team’s success to their awareness of their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

“The key was to respect Petro but not to fear them. Every player respected their role, including those on the bench,” said Benmhine. Jonathan Jordan led the charge for FUS, scoring 17 points, while Aliou Diarra, the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year, picked up where he left off in Season 3 with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

BAL Action
Yanick Moreira efforts were not enough as Petro fell to FUS Rabat. Pictures: The BTO

Petro de Luanda, who is usually a good shooting team, struggled to create the space they needed on the floor to play their game. As a result, only two players put up double digits. “Tonight was not a good game. We got killed on offence and defence. We struggled to play as a team while the other team did,” Petro coach Jose Neto.

In the third quarter, Petro seemed to gain momentum, sparked by some steals by Childe Dundao, which led to back-to-back threes from Carlos Morais. Unfortunately, this was short-lived as the team closed out the quarter at an 11-point deficit.

Despite this defeat, Morais is still confident in his team’s ability to bounce back in their next game against the hosts, The Cape Town Tigers.

“We were very unlucky, but we have only lost one game. Our focus is to qualify for Kigali, and this loss does not change that,” said  Morais.

Game 2: Dynamo spoils Tigers’ local debut

In a fully packed arena, Burundi’s Dynamo Basketball Club spoiled the Cape Town Tigers’ home opener with a 86-73 win. The Tigers struggled to share the ball and settled for desperate shots in the first half, going 5/18 beyond the arc and giving up 22 points in the paint. Which them at a 15-point deficit by halftime.

Despite a full-court press effort and some electrifying plays in the third by Samkelo Cele (26 points) and Billy Preson Jr (18 points), which cut the lead down to 6, the team lost momentum as they became careless with the ball, leading to them being down 13 points by the end of the third.

BAL Action
Samkelo Cele played a starring role for the Tigers, who came up short against Dynamo.

“We did a good job of penetrating the paint, but that counts for nothing if we cannot convert. We didn’t protect the ball and struggled to play defence for a full 24 seconds,” remarked Cele.

Dynamo’s coach Julien Chaignot credited his players’ readiness for the moment. The French coach also acknowledged the importance of winning the first game, which is a good first step for the rest of the competition.

In the post-game presser, Burundi’s Bryton Hobbs spoke about the hard grind that brought them here, including training outdoors for six weeks, sometimes three times a day in the rain.

“We built chemistry over those six weeks, which has made us a tight-knit team. We are here to win.”

Hobbs’ 17 first-half points gave Dynamo a comfortable lead. However, his finesse and leadership shined bright in the second half as he got some good looks and dished out 7 assists.

FUS and Dynamo steal the show on opening night Read More »

Dynamo’s Deing appreciates trial by fire journey to first BAL

ONE thing you cannot accuse Dhieu Deing of is a lack of effort on the court. So, it’s understandable if he thought himself to be an unlucky player since turning pro.

The South Sudanese, whose professional career began on the continent with South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers, says the journey to experiencing his first Basketball Africa League as a player has been a trial by fire.

After a year and a few months, it is finally happening for Deing, who will suit up for Dynamo BBC, a team from the humble climes of Burundi. But looking back on his journey and production, Deing surely deserved to play sooner in the BAL.

His respectable 12.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, and six assists per game in the 2023 Road To BAL catapulted the Tigers to a second continental appearance. Sadly, Deing would suffer a gut punch as he never ended up featuring with the Tigers for BAL Season 3.

Dhieu Deing
Dhieu Deing has returned to South Africa to represent Dynamo at the BAL. Pictures: The BTO and FIBA

Deing, who will help lead Dynamo’s BAL Kalahari Conference campaign, felt immense disappointment at not turning out for the Tigers last year. But he has grown to appreciate the non-linear journey to the elite club tournament.

“Definitely! At that time (with the Tigers), I was disappointed. I felt like all the work I had put in had gone to waste, but everything happens for a reason. All that has led to me being here today with Dynamo,” said the 22-year-old.

Before joining Dynamo for their Kalahari Conference journey in South Africa, Deing was on the roster of Tanzanian club Pazi for their 2024 Road To BAL campaign.

That journey would end in a dispiriting manner for the point guard when Pazi did not qualify. In a twist of irony, it was Dynamo that pipped Deing’s former club to the second-spot finish in the group play of the Road To BAL’s Elite 16.

Deing explained that in Pazi’s last group game against Dynamo, his final shot attempt with seconds remaining looked a sure bet to go in, but it could only tease at the rim, and bobble out. That seemingly dashed his hopes of appearing at the BAL for another season.

“Man! Honestly, we were supposed to make it… With my shot looking like it was going in, but for it to rim out, it was just God’s plan. I was frustrated. I wondered why. But now I see why,” said Deing.

The dynamic guard did not have to sit for long in his disappointment. A call from Dynamo’s new French coach Julien Chaignot made his BAL dream come true. Deing felt that divinity was also at work for him to journey to the tiny East African nation. 

“For anybody signing for a club, you first have to look up the country. When I looked up Burundi, it was the poorest country in the world in 2023,” said Deing. “So, I feel something way bigger than me led me there. Going there was a great choice.

“I was happy (to join Dynamo). I played against these guys twice (in The Road To BAL) and knew the atmosphere their fans brought. Their style of play also impressed me, so when I got the call from the coach, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.”

Despite the economic challenges faced by Burundi, which basketball also mirrors, Deing is unfazed. He believes the trial has given them impetus to excel at the tournament.

He explained his experience playing on the concrete turf under sometimes trying weather conditions.

“We have been preparing for seven to eight weeks outside on concrete… Practising two to three times a day. It’s been a hard grind, but I feel we need that to do well in this tournament,” said Deing. “We know we are an underdog because no other team practices outside with the sun beaming on them. I think that gives us a lot more fuel.”

Dhieu Deing fell short with Tanzania’s Pazi at the Road To BAL’s Elite 16.

Deing has also been pleased with his French coach and his new teammates.

“The coach is the type that does his homework on the players he has. He puts everybody in the right position and everyone is on the same page defensively,” said Deing. “We have a player like (Israel) Otobo, a great asset with rebounds, defence and scoring. Guibert (Nijimbere) will give us great spark plug minutes when he comes off the bench. 

Dynamo must be on point in all facets of the game when they play Cape Town Tigers on the Kalahari Conference’s opening night (Saturday), FUS Rabat and Petro de Luanda in the expanded BAL.

And Deing is itching with excitement to have finally reached the pinnacle in African club basketball.

“I can’t wait to experience the BAL and showcasing our talent. That is what we are looking for… To show the world what we can do,” said Deing.

He will not have to wait long for the moment that seemed elusive. Come Saturday, the stage will be set for Africa to witness Deing show up and show out.

Dynamo’s Deing appreciates trial by fire journey to first BAL Read More »

A leap of faith leads Otobo to realising BAL dream

ISRAEL Otobo first encountered the Basketball Africa League (BAL) as a fan. The 19-year-old Nigerian forward remembers watching Season 3 of The BAL for the first time at a restaurant in Nigeria. That moment gave him some food for thought… He imagined himself being part of what is becoming one of the greatest basketball shows in Africa.

“I remember thinking, ‘This league is so huge and I would love to play in it one day’,” said the Nigerian international.

His wish to play in the BAL would come true, albeit outside the confines of his homeland. In a couple of weeks (March 9), Otobo and Burundi’s Dynamo Basketball Club will participate in the expanded BAL’s Kalahari Conference, tipping off at the Sun Bet Arena in Pretoria, South Africa.

Israel Otobo playing in the Road To BAL
Israel Otobo has fulfilled a dream by helping Dynamo qualify for the BAL. Pictures: FIBA Africa.

In an interview with The Big Tip Off, Otobo discusses his young professional career, the Road to BAL qualifiers and the team’s preparation for Season 4 of the BAL.

Otobo’s journey with Dynamo began unexpectedly. It followed an unsuccessful season with the local men’s side Nigeria Customs. They lost to the Kwara Falcons in the 2022 Nigerian Premier League finals, resulting in them losing out on a BAL ticket. Although the team’s season ended on a sad note, Otobo credits his senior teammates for helping ease his nerves. They made his first experience in the league a good one.

Following his performance there, he received a call-up to represent Nigeria at the World Cup Qualifiers, where he caught the eye of Dynamo BBC. The Burundian club promptly began negotiations, which proved fruitful, and Otobo would be on his way to East Africa.

Otobo had no prior knowledge of the club and Burundi, but he took the leap of faith and was determined to help Dynamo achieve their domestic and continental ambitions.

“When I first came in, I didn’t know anybody,” recalls Otobo. “I had no reputation, so I had to start from scratch by proving myself, while also trying to figure out how we would win the league.”

Thankfully for Otobo and Dynamo, the leap of faith paid off as they beat former Champions Urunani to claim their first Championship since 2018 and secured themselves a spot in last year’s the Road to BAL qualifiers.

Their Road To BAL Division East journey began in Tanzania, and following a second-place finish in the regional qualifiers, a season-saving wild card sent Dynamo to the Elite 16 in Johannesburg. They eventually secured the last ticket after a close victory over Madagascar’s COSPN in the third-place game. The Hulk-like Otobo averaged 14 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, which helped Dynamo’s qualification efforts.

“We made it through the first stage (of the Road to BAL), but things got more challenging in South Africa,” said Otobo. “There were some difficulties, but I had faith in my team and believed we could overcome them. Thank God, we did.”

Otobo credits his team’s success in the tournament to their fighting spirit and level of self-belief. He says, “Although people did not believe in us, we had faith in ourselves and each other. We all understood our roles, stuck to the plan, and supported one another. This kept us going and enabled us to achieve our goal of securing the ticket.”

Reflecting on the last game against COSPN, where he fouled out, Otobo expressed his disappointment at not finishing the game. He felt he could have helped his team in the crucial moments.

“I fouled out doing my job, and I did my best. So did my team, till the very end, and that is how we were able to get the job done.”

The journey to success had its hardships, but Otobo has learned invaluable lessons from his former teammates, Chris Obekpa and Deshaun Morman, which he will carry into Season 4. “The leadership that they brought to the team showed me how to conduct myself as a professional.”

Israel Otobo in action for Nigeria
Israel Otobo caught the eye of Dynamo while playing for Nigeria in the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

Dynamo has made big moves in preparation for the BAL. These include acquiring the services of former COSPN head coach, Julian Chaignot, dynamite guard Dhieu Deing and forwards Makhtar Gueye and Ryan Richards.

Otobo says their practices have been challenging as the competition draws closer.

“Training camp has been intense and hard. We have some new guys too, and they are also adjusting,” says Otobo. “Everything is going well. We are getting to know each other more as we build our team spirit and chemistry.”

His focus for the next couple of weeks is preparing for the moment he wished for since watching the BAL in that restaurant in Nigeria.

He and his Dynamo teammates will do battle against Kalahari Conference hosts Cape Town Tigers in the last game of the opening night.

“We have never been to the BAL, so we do not know what to expect. One thing I know is we are going to give everything we have,” says Otobo. “We will not fear any opponent. We going to fight in every single game and give our best.”

The change in scenery has elevated Otobo’s career, and in a few weeks, he will have a chance to show out on the big stage.

A leap of faith leads Otobo to realising BAL dream Read More »

Verified by MonsterInsights