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epa09044013 Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo (L) of the Democratic Republic of Congo dunks the ball for two points as Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica of Serbia (R) looks on during the second half of the NBA basketball game between Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, USA, 28 February 2021. EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO SHUTTERSTOCK OUT

Basketball

Star African NBA player to watch: Bismack Biyombo

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – Viewers on DStv and GOtv can look forward to seeing Congolese player Bismack Biyombo in National Basketball Association (NBA) action, as ESPN brings live action from the 2020-21 season this coming week, Friday 24 March to Thursday 1 April 2021.

DStv and GOtv is your home of the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.

Biyombo hails from Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, starting out his basketball career in Spain before being drafted to the NBA in 2011. The 2.06 metre-tall centre was first on the books of the Charlotte Hornets / Bobcats before spells at the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic, before returning to North Carolina in 2018.

Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo of Congo (C) shoots beside Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (L) and Washington Wizards guard John Wall (back), during the first half of their NBA game at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, USA, 06 December 2016. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

The 28-year-old is not a regular starter for the Hornets, but with the 2020-21 NBA season stretching rosters thin, the Congolese star has seen some significant playing time and impressed in the teal and purple of the Charlotte team.

He will hope to carry that form into a clash against the Phoenix Suns on the evening of Sunday 28 March – a game viewers on DStv and GOtv can see live on ESPN.

Yet Biyombo’s impact in 2021 is stretching far beyond how he performs on the court. He has formed the Bismack Biyombo Foundation, with its first major investment the building of the Kivu International School, located in the city of Goma.

In a nation where one-third of children drop out of school before sixth grade, this was an opportunity to change the lives of 500 students — give them the chance to learn French and English, along with a full national and international curriculum, in modern classrooms with Wi-Fi and a library. Not to mention the nation’s first covered basketball court.

“We want to be able to impact life on a daily basis, but also it’s far beyond that,” Biyombo explained. “I’ve seen a country that I lived in for years, every year it’s taken advantage of. Kids are not educated. The country is worth over $24 trillion [in natural resources] but is one of the poorest countries. Every day is a fight for these kids, you know… You wear somebody else’s clothes; people make donations and that’s how a lot of us used to receive those clothes.”

He added, “The goal is we want to give these kids opportunities I didn’t have. Most of the kids want a way out; I want to give them a reason to stay. All the kids want a way out of the Congo; to me it’s about poverty, it’s hard, all this. I want to give them a reason to stay.

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“That’s exposing them to the right information, putting in the right infrastructure so that they feel comfortable enough to be home, dreaming at home, living their dreams while their mother, father, family are there with them.”

For Biyombo, education and the opportunities it can provide are the way out. He is close to opening a second school, in his hometown of Lubumbashi: “Obviously, the second school was slowed down by COVID and the pandemic, but that second school will be done this year and then kids will be able to attend school 2021-22, so we look forward to that.”

He continued, “I’ve learned so much, now I can use that to go back home and motivate a lot of kids, use that to put new ideas in them. Hopefully, now that we’ve started the work, they have a different understanding of life. They want to be somebody in life. If I didn’t go through that I wouldn’t be able to explain anything to them.”

See Bismack Biyombo in the following match live on ESPN:

Sunday 28 March

20:00: NBA Regular Season, Charlotte Hornets v Phoenix Suns – LIVE on ESPN

What Hamidou Diallo will bring to the Pistons

One of the major pieces of trade news in the NBA has been the Detroit Pistons acquiring guard/forward Hamidou Diallo from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Svi Mykhailiuk and a future second-round pick.

Diallo has enjoyed a breakout season in his third campaign with Oklahoma and his move to Detroit represents another step in a drastic roster overhaul for the Pistons under new general manager Troy Weaver, who was previously an executive for the Thunder.

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The 22-year-old Diallo was born in Queens, New York City of Guinean immigrants. He attended John Brown and Putnam Science Academy before featuring for the Kentucky Wildcats at college level. He was then a second-round draft pick in 2018, selected by the Brooklyn Nets before  being traded to the Charlotte Hornets and then Oklahoma City Thunder.

Pistons head coach Dwayne Casey is delighted to have Diallo join the franchise and sees big things in the future for the 2019 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner.

“He’s a wing defender – can guard one through three, the smaller fours,” Casey said of Diallo. “Excellent wing runner. He’s quick, athletic – probably one of the most athletic wings in the league. Needs to continue to work on his three-point shooting, which is what our league is about. But he’ll definitely step right in as one of our top defenders. He has a wingspan that’s out of this world, anticipates well and competes.”

Diallo joins Jerami Grant, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey and Sekou Doumbouya among a cohort of young, versatile, athletic wings. Like Mykhailiuk, Diallo would be a restricted free agent this summer if the Pistons extend a modest qualifying offer of $2.1 million. The Pistons could then negotiate a long-term contract with him or have the right to match any offer he receives from another team.

“[Piston general manager] Troy [Weaver] knows him well. He’s a guy who competes,” Casey continued. “I know a little about him, being at Kentucky. But Troy is the one who got him there when he was traded to Oklahoma City, so he fits in from the toughness standpoint. We still need to continue to improve our shooting. I think he will do that because he’s a worker. Our coaches will work relentlessly. They’ve done an excellent job with Saben [Lee].”

Visit www.dstv.com and www.gotvafrica.com to subscribe or upgrade, and join in on the excitement. And while you’re on the move, you can stream the action on DStv.

Catch the following games live on ESPN and ESPN 2 this week…

Saturday 27 March

01:30: NBA Regular Season, Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics – LIVE on ESPN 2

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04:00: NBA Regular Season, Golden State Warriors v Atlanta Hawks – LIVE on ESPN 2

Sunday 28 March

20:00: NBA Regular Season, Charlotte Hornets v Phoenix Suns – LIVE on ESPN

Monday 29 March

02:00: NBA Regular Season, Toronto Raptors v Portland Trail Blazers – LIVE on ESP

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