LIMOGES (ProA/Afrobasket) - Nobel Boungou Colo would consider to represent his native Republic of Congo at the 2013 Afrobasket if the country’s Basketball Federation (FECOKET) put adequate preparations in place.
“Sure, I would like to,” the Brazzaville-native told FIBA.com when asked about his availability to the national team.
But, he could also represent France internationally due to his dual citizenship.
He moved to France at the age of ten because of his father’s diplomacy job.
Boungou Colo, as he is known in basketball circles, plays currently for French Pro A side Limoges, and he is doing really well in his third professional season.
However, when it comes to talk about Congo-Brazzaville basketball, Serge Ibaka’s name inevitably and comes to mind.
Not only because he represented Republic of Congo at the 2006 U18 Afrobasket, and he currently represents Spain internationally, but because he is the most famous sportsperson in the football-crazy country.
Ibaka is not alone, as many more talented Congolese players may represent other nations.
Central African Republic international Max Kouguere was born in the capital Brazzaville.
Boungou Colo does not understand why basketball remains unnoticed in the country, despite Ibaka’s worldwide success.
Republic of Congo has a modest Afrobasket historic, and Boungou Colo says his country has chances to do better at this year’s Afrobasket, which will be staged in Ivory Coast, if basketball is treated positively.
The upcoming Afrobasket is a qualifier tournament to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“I have not heard anything from the federation in the recent years,” Boungou Colo explained.
“They had contacted me years ago, but I was too young at the time.
“There are a lot of Congolese playing in professional leagues in Europe and the US. If the federation wanted to build up a good team they would have no problems to succeed, at all.
“I have talked to some Congolese players who would play at Afrobasket, but none has heard anything about basketball plans from back home,” he pointed out.
Republic of Congo last played at Afrobasket in 2009.
At the time Jean Serge Koumba led the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game, but they finished winless in five games.
Last summer they secured qualification along Cameroon and Central African Republic in Africa zone 4 qualifier tournament.
Beyond Nobel, other Congolese including Giovan Oniangue (Paris Levallois) and Ruddy Okemba (Le Portel) feature in the LNB.
Both Armand Kabeya and Wen Mukubu ply their trade in Belgium league with Liege Basket.
“If they (FECOKET) plan the national team seriously, I think we could be as competitive as Senegal, Nigeria or other big teams in Africa,” the 2.02m forward said.
“He (Ibaka) could well be playing for our national team, but if you don’t hear from your country’s federation you are left with no other choice.
“Our country spends too much attention to football and our most famous sportsman is Serge Ibaka,” he explains.
Boungou Colo in Pro A
The 24-year-old has become a household name in the LNB thanks to solid performances with Limoges.
He leads the team in scoring with 10.8 points per game and he was selected to his first LNB All-Star Game last December.
This bas been his most successful season. He joined the historic club Limoges from Le Mans last year during the season and experienced the promotion from Pro B to Pro A. Boungou Colo’s presence in the team has gone from strength to strength, especially because of legendary head coach Panagiotis Giannakis’s support.
Not bad for a player who started playing organized basketball at the age of 15 and signed his first professional contract three years ago.
The growing success this season, Boungou Colo says, is down to coach “Giannakis who helps me a lot to improve my game.”
“I have a good playing time, and I am just working hard to go as far as I can.
“Playing in the Euroleague and Eurocup is one my personal objectives.
“As a team we are focused in avoiding relegation, secure a place in the play-offs and play in the French Cup,” he explained.