12 January 2008

CAMEROON : Adingono at the helm of emerging force, Cameroon

Cameroon were one of the surprise packages at the FIBA Africa Championship last year, reaching the title game before falling to Angola.

They served notice that Africa has a powerhouse in the making, and Coach Lazare Adingono has been charged with the responsibility of making sure this national team reaches its full potential.

Adingono, who is an assistant coach at Canisius in Buffalo, New York, spoke to Julio Chitunda on behalf of FIBA.

Here is Part I of Chitunda's story on the emerging force in international basketball, Cameroon.

If confidence were something you could put your hands on, or see with your own eyes, then confidence would come in the shape of Cameroon head coach Lazare Adingono.

That’s right.

Everything about Adingono exudes confidence after the stunning performance of his national team last year at the FIBA Africa Championship, where Cameroon announced their arrival on the world stage with a terrific run to the final.
They were ultimately beaten for the first time in the tournament by juggernauts Angola.
The performance was good enough to earn them a place in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, though, an event that will be staged in Athens in July.
The draw for that tournament comes at the end of January, and rest assured, no team will be taking Cameroon lightly if they come up against them.
"One thing for sure is that every time we take the floor we will compete, expecting to win," Adingono said to FIBA.com.
Only three spots are up for grabs in the men’s tournament at the Olympics and there are 12 teams vying for those places.

In addition to Cameroon, you will find Brazil, Cape Verde, Canada, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Korea, Lebanon, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Slovenia all contesting for those places.
Cameroon’s team is young and talented, and their players are currently in the United States playing college basketball or in Europe.
Most of the attention is on the young guns honing their skills in the US.
Youth, in fact, applies to all aspects of this national team.
Adingono is only 29-year-old, and he, too, is in America. He is assistant coach at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.
"I honestly think our future performances at the next Pre-Olympic Games will greatly depend on how much and where we prepare for that special upcoming event," Adingono said.
Could this really be the emerging force in African basketball? If you consider who is in this team, it’s tempting to say yes.
There is talent in abundance, youth and now international experience.
Adingono said: "I believe that, in addition to Angola, which has proven that they can compete with the very best in the world, the African continent is right at the forefront and will be ready to compete on a consistent basis worldwide," he said.

And the preparation will be key.
"I am hopeful that we will have a (good) preparation leading to the next qualifying tournament," he stressed again.
"We, as a nation, will welcome any sponsors that would like to endorse us for that particular event.
"Working in collaboration with the [Cameroon] Basketball Federation and Ministry of Sports, we are looking to put a plan in place.
"I am confident that all the people that support basketball in Cameroon and worldwide will help us every step of the way and provide the finances necessary to prepare and compete on an even playing field."
Adingono is confident, yet he is also very humble.
His national team players, he believes, are getting first-class instruction in the game in America.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the coaches that are doing everything possible to get these young men to be the best that they can be," he said.
"I think the NCAA is the best thing that we have going in developing our young talent to give us a realistic chance to compete and expect to win in such grand stage."

And who are some of these talented players?

The best known lives in Los Angeles, and plays at the same university – UCLA - that gave the basketball world Lew Alcindor, the man who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and shone for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Cameroon’s star at UCLA is forward Mbah A Moute.

"Mbah A Moute is very talented young man and will play a huge role in leading a young group of people to many future competitions starting with the Pre-Olympics next summer in Greece," Adingono said.

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