For Angola, basketball is a deep-rooted passion, it's in its DNA.
In the capital, Luanda, young people love playing it and the nation adores watching it. Angolan Basketball Analyst, Alfredo 'Weza' Fortunato, tells us that "every time Angola is playing, the country basically stops, and everybody sticks to the TV watching the formidable national team playing, with the set of skills comparing to America, even to Europe".
Angola has dominated on the African continent for three decades. It has won 11 out of 15 Afrobasket Championships since 1989.
A much-watched sport
Domestic clashes like Clube Desportivo Primeiro de Agosto vs Atlético Petróleos de Luanda always get the fans pumped. Both teams were in this year's Victorino Cunha Super Cup that was played under strict COVID-19 protocols.
Alfredo describes watching these two teams compete as similar to "watching Real Madrid against Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid against Barcelona, Celtics against Lakers".
Angola’s basketball success is built on skill, dedication and on some leading names, both past and present. It's a country that continues to qualify for the Olympic basketball tournament and the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Bruno Fernando is among today’s star international names. He was snapped up by the Atlanta Hawks and is the first-ever Angolan to compete in the coveted NBA in the US. Bruno says that playing in the NBA "feels great" and it's an honour. He also hopes that it will open doors for children who wish to follow in his footsteps.
The ambassador of African Basketball
Dikembe Mutombo is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also played for the Hawks. In 2015, he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame and he's generally regarded, as the ambassador of African basketball.
He believes that the success of Angolan Basketball "has got to do with the great foundation that they have in Angola with the game of basketball, great coaches and great inspiration." It is what's driving the talent of tomorrow.
Basketball Africa League
Young players are also being boosted by the brand-new Basketball Africa League, which is partnered by the NBA and FIBA. Mutombo says the Basketball Africa League is great news for Angola, "it will be a place where NBA scouts, NBA coaches and NBA General Managers will come to look at the young Africans and try to see who is the best on the continent".
As Angola's rising stars continue to reach for success, the country's national team is focusing on this year’s Olympic qualifiers in Lithuania. Its aim is to guarantee a place at the Tokyo Games.