Tigers’ Ground-breaking Success Spur Basketball Hopefuls

Myolisi Gophe, 2 December 2021

Imagine a young basketball aspirant from an impoverished community going to a Cape Town Tigers basketball club training session and see a National Basketball Association (NBA) player like Ben Uzoh train.

The excitement, the imaginations and the hopes that the training session will rub off on that youngster, and the energy it will give him or her to pursue his dream. 

This has actually been the case since the Gugulethu-based Tigers was established in 2019. The club is owned by American basketball icon Raphael Edwards, who strongly believes that the sport can actually grow and surpass the likes of cricket and rugby in South Africa. 

Since its inception, Tigers have gone out to conquer not just Cape Town but South Africa and the Southern African region, and they are a serious contender for the Basketball Africa League – the most prestigious basketball league on the continent. “There is finally something in Cape Town, South Africa for players to play for,” commented Tigers coach, Relton Booysen.

“The possibility of being part of the BAL on its own is ground-breaking in Cape Town. Furthermore on social and economic levels Cape Town will benefit significantly. You have American players travelling the city and posting on social media how beautiful and safe our city is. This will open doors for more foreign players who want to come to Cape Town and it will definitely boost tourism”. 

Last week, Tigers travelled to Johannesburg for the final leg of their preparations for the Elite 16 competition which kicks-off on 6 to 11 December. He said the event was supposed to have taken place in the Mother City but due to red tape it was moved up north.

Representing South Africa, Tigers are in Group H1 with three clubs from Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia. Six top teams from the 16-team tournament will qualify for the BAL tournament of 2022.

What made Tigers to be such a force to be reckoned with in such a short space of time? “We have a unique structure and team of players,” Booysen explained. “We have six of the South African national players in our team, two players that played in the NBA and another two imports. The mix of youth and experience put together by the coaching staff enable us to compete at any level. We have good team chemistry and have a good bond on the court as a team”.

Booysen said he is proud of the club’s owners and management for building such a formidable outfit. “National champions, regional champions only in such a short space is very inspiring. There is a good future for basketball in Cape Town and South Africa if everyone can comply and work together”.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to coach at such a level and have good international leaders like Ben Uzoh and Evans Ganapomo who assist me to lead the team. I am putting in time and hard work to give South Africa a possibility to have a team in BAL 2022. This will increase basketball opportunities at all levels in our country”.

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