SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - Angola is a basketball-crazy nation that may become even crazier if Carlos Morais succeeds in his attempt to become the country's first NBA player.
This columns aims to show the significance of Angola having a NBA player.
Despite Angola's 11 African titles achieved over the course of the past 24 years, very few Angolans have ever played in a major league around the world unlike their African rivals of Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Tunisia or Nigeria.
It may sound odd how a country dominates basketball on the continent relying mostly on home-based players. But for the Angolans their basketball passion speaks louder, and the dream of seeing an Angolan moving from the national league to the NBA has never been as alive.
In the past few days, Angola media was inundated with the news that Morais - one of the finest African players in recent years - was practising with an NBA team, and the fact gained as much attention as the celebrations of Angola's 11th AfroBasket title achieved last month in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Morais is reportedly practising with the Toronto Raptors, and there is no public confirmation of an agreement between the 27-year-old guard and the Raptors despite media reports in Angola suggesting the AfroBasket 2013 MVP has agreed terms with the Canadian franchise.
When one looks at the Raptors 2013-14 squad, Morais' name remains unnoticed, which is normal due to the specifications of NBA contracts.
Apparently, the news began to circulate when Morais posted his Toronto Raptors' access pass on Instagram, indicating that he was somehow involved with the franchise.
The overwhelming reaction in Angola indicates his countrymen can't wait to see the 1.93m guard step on the court, show his talent and put an end to Angola absence in the NBA.
In the past, and in different occasions, Angolans Gerson Monteiro, Victor Muzadi, Olimpio Cipriano, and more recently Valdelicio Joaquim, have practised with NBA teams, but none has ever made the final team.
This column is no more than a hypothesis, although I believe Morais has NBA caliber and is one of the "four or five talented players" that Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri told me impressed him most while he followed AfroBasket 2013 last month in Abidjan.
IF the Raptors - despite their modest success in the league - sign Morais, the Canadian franchise would become the most popular NBA teamin Angola and it would not be a surprise to see Angolans of different walks of life crossing the Atlantic to watch their countryman play.
IF Morais does well and signs for a NBA team - as far as I am aware - he would become the shortest African player reaching the league.
IF Morais becomes Angola's first NBA player, he will add his name to Angola's greatest, former international Jean Jacques da Conceiçao, an iconic player highly-respected and admired in the country thanks to his stellar playing career in Portugal and France, who was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in June.
Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan are currently represented in the NBA, but Angolan is just about to join the NBA's African contingent IF Morais excels.
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