Johannesburg: In a bold move to improve the standard of the game in the country, Basketball South Africa (Basketball SA) today announced the hosting of its inaugural Four Nations Challenge series.
With the country’s top players having been denied international competition for a number of years, Basketball SA has invited Nigeria, Kenya and Mozambique to participate together with South Africa’s senior men’s team in the Four Nations Challenge from Thursday 19th March to Sunday 22nd March.
This inaugural Challenge Series takes place at the revamped Wembley Indoor Sports Complex in Springfield Johannesburg, starting with the opening Matches featuring South Africa against Mozambique and Nigeria playing Kenya.
The City of Johannesburg has partnered Basketball SA in developing Wembley into a world-class basketball facility. With the sport having no dedicated facility throughout the country that can be used for international and national competitions, the City of Johannesburg has agreed to make the venue available for Basketball.
Wembley is set to become the home of basketball in the country and a number of changes to the venue are already underway to have the venue ready for the Four Nations Challenge.
“We are extremely grateful to the City of Johannesburg for having the vision and foresight in agreeing to enter into a partnership with Basketball SA”, said Albert Mokoena, the Deputy President of Basketball SA.
“Wembley will be the home of Basketball SA and the Basketball National League (BNL). With the support of Sport and Recreation South Africa, and in particular Minister Fikile Mbalula, we are on course to revamp the venue and over the next few years will build it into the premier home of basketball”.
Mokoena said that the Four Nations Challenge is only the start of big things to come for basketball. He indicated that Nigeria, Mozambique and Kenya are amongst the most vibrant teams on the continent and that they would be great competition for South Africa as the sport continues rebuilding both its playing strength and popularity.
“We envisage the Four Nations Challenge becoming an annual event. While we have invited countries from the continent this year, we are looking at expanding this in the future to bring some of the best national teams within FIBA to play in the country,” said Mokoena.
National coach George Makena expressed his delight with the exposure that the senior national men’s side will be having.
“Nigeria is a top-ranked side in FIBA and they will really test the ability of our leading players,” said Makena.
“We are in the process of rebuilding our national team and we have a great blend of experience and youth. This Four Nations will start giving our players the exposure that they need to develop into one of the leading sides on the continent,” said Makena.
Entry to the venue is free for spectators. Entertainment will be provided throughout the series.
Matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
FOUR NATIONS CHALLENGE PROGRAMME
Thursday 19th March
18H00 Opening Ceremony
18H30 Nigeria vs Kenya
20H30 South Africa vs Mozambique
Friday 20th March
18H30 Kenya vs Mozambique
20H30 Nigeria vs South Africa