NBA Begins First Training Academy in Cuba

From left to right, Steve Nash, Dikembe Mutombo and Ticha Penicheiro. Photo: Aynel Martínez Hernández/Cubadebate.cu –

HAVANA TIMES — The NBA opened the first training academy of a professional US basketball league in Cuba on Thursday, made possible by the diplomatic thaw between Washington and Havana, reported dpa.

“Our trip to Cuba this week is a historic journey,” said Congolese former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo in the opening ceremony of the four day event (until April 26) in the Cuban capital.

“As you know, basketball is a bridge that can unite people,” said Mutombo at the University of the Physical Culture Sciences and Sports in Havana. Alongside him was Steve Nash, twice chosen the NBA’s Most Valuable Player and Ticha Penicheiro, Portuguese legend of the women’s basketball league in the United States (WNBA).

“Hopefully this is the initial jump for a future project,” said meanwhile Alberto Andrés García, regional director for the Americas of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), co-organizer of the event.

“It is important to recognize the work both governments are doing,” Garcia said about political rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.

The US delegation is comprised of ten representatives of the NBA, including Quin Sneyder, coach of the Utah Jazz, and James Borrego, of the Orlando Magic, as well as Victor Ojeda, director of the Basketball Academy of the Americas.

At the opening ceremony were also historical figures of Cuban sports including boxer Felix Savon and world high jump record holder Javier Sotomayor.

The training camps called “Basketball Without Borders” have already been carried out in some ten countries in Latin America and have traveled the world, said Garcia.

Several US sports institutions have shown interest in Cuba since the Obama and Castro administrations announced the resumption of diplomatic relations last December.

The New York Cosmos soccer club plans to play a friendly match against a Cuban team on June 2 on the island.

3 thoughts on “NBA Begins First Training Academy in Cuba

  • This is interesting:

    “Abreu, Ramirez excited at possible exhibition games in Cuba”

    The Chicago White Sox are considering a series of exhibition games in 2016.

    “This is baseball. This is sport. This is not political stuff. Nothing like that,” Ramirez said. “I think that we have to be able to have that opportunity also to come back to our country.”

    “All the Cuban players that are playing here that cannot come back right now to Cuba, they are waiting for that moment,” Abreu said. “Within that development [improved relations between the countries] is something good and exciting for all us and all of the people in Cuba.”

    http://m.whitesox.mlb.com/news/article/120156550/chicago-white-sox-alexei-ramirez-and-jose-abreu-excited-at-the-prospect-of-exhibition-games-in-cuba

  • As the wall separating our two countries continues to fall, it is clear who stands to benefit most. After all, if the US needed a Salsa Academy, we would already have it. The smartest and most talented Cubans already live in the US. This Academy hardly fits the definition of an “exchange”. One can only hope as we bring Cuba into the 21st century, the tyrannical grip the Castros have maintained around the throats of the Cuban people for 56 years will begin to loosen.

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