St Alban’s are coming to America

FOR any South African high school basketball player making a trip across the Atlantic Ocean to the home of the game is a dream come true.

Playing in the land that gave birth to some of to the greatest players to have graced a basketball court, colossal figures that have set the bar high and great names that just roll off the tongue during sport debates. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and the list goes on.

For the USA bound St Alban’s team, the realisation of that dream will happen on Friday, where they will tour the nation’s capital Washington, Philadelphia and New York.

St Alban’s captain Nale Mulaudzi drives into the basket. Pictures: The BTO

St Alban’s coach Victor Fouda, who oversaw his team’s practice at the school’s courts last Friday, believes the tour is an opportunity for his players to be exposed to a high standard of basketball and it is a challenge the players want as well.

“We asked the majority of the players where they wanted go and most of them decided the USA is where they wanted to go,” said the Cameroon-born Fouda, who agreed with the player’s choice. “The USA is the home of basketball and it’s a good platform in any case. The way we play basketball in South Africa is different to the US style; so, I want them to experience that style so that when they come back they can make up their own minds.”

Fouda is aware of the challenge that awaits his team ahead of their excursion, as St Alban’s will be matching their style of play against more physical and athletic players, but he believes his team has its own attributes to counter whatever is thrown at them.

“African players have what we call flair, the US basketball is about physicality and explosion, but for us it about more skill and flair,” reiterated Fouda, who coached at St Alban’s for 17 years.

The St Alban’s coach also encouraged the players to take advantage of this tour as it presents a window of opportunity for them, as there is a potential for them to be scouted and offered scholarships.

 “What I tell my players is, this type of tour can lead to bigger things, it’s about how you take advantage of it. Going to the USA is a dream for any basketball player so they must make use of this chance because you never know, you could be scouted and play college basketball in the USA,” said Fouda.

St Alban’s coach Victor Fouda believes playing in the US is a great opportunity for his team.

St Alban’s Matriculant pupils and senior players, Nale Mulaudzi, who is the team captain and Jean Tognia are looking forward to this tour and the challenge ahead.

“Honestly, I am very excited, I have also been speaking to a lot of teammates as well and they are also excited. It’s a great opportunity to experience American ball as it is obviously different to South Africa’s. We get to feel different positions, guys will know what they need to work on and when they comeback they’ll feel a lot more confident,” said 17-year-old Nale who encouraged his teammates to learn as much as they can while on tour. “I think as a team we need to know each other’s strengths, how to find each other on the court and also being a lot more confident. I think the guys are afraid to step out of their comfort zones. I think if you want to be a better player you need step out of your comfort zone and try new things.”

Tognia spoke from a similar vein as his team captain and acknowledged the level which the game is played in the US.

“We are very excited about the tour, we have been training very hard for it, so we are definitely looking forward to it,” said the 18-year-old player. “The States is a nice place for basketball, it’s the best basketball country in the world that’s why we decided to go there.”

The stage has been set for the St Alban’s players and all they have to do is seize the moment to shine in the spotlight.

St Alban’s playing itinerary:

Washington

15 April:

St Alban’s v New World VA Team (Team 1)

St Alban’s v New World VA Team (Team 2)

16 April:

St Alban’s v Hayfield High School (Team 1)

St Alban’s v Hayfield High School (Team 2)

17 April:

St Alban’s v Nova 94 (Team 1)

St Alban’s v Nova 94 (Team 2)

Philadelphia

18 April:

St Alban’s v Nook Club (Team 1)

St Alban’s v Nook Club (Team2)

19 – 20 April:

St Alban’s v Olympus Prep (Team 1)

St Alban’s v Olympus Prep (Team 2)

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