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NBA: insecurity takes Haiti out of the 2023-2024 season


Typically represented in the big American league, Haiti is one of the few countries without representation on the court this season

The NBA identified 125 international players at the start of the 2023-2024 season, a record in its history. Haiti, typically represented in the big American league, is one of the few countries without representation on the court this season. Growing insecurity in the country is a major contributing factor, where a college in the U.S. state of Texas was unable to travel to Haiti to recruit Haitian youth.

The last time a Haitian player participated in the NBA was on December 28, 2019. That night, Labissiere played three minutes in the Portland Trail-Blazers’ 120-128 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Since then, no native Haitian has played a single minute in the NBA.

AyiboPost interviewed several people in the Haitian basketball community to shed light on this situation.

According to Ralph Ganthier, sports analyst on the show Ibo Basket, the lack of a consistent basketball championships in Haiti is one of the factors behind this situation.

« Without a consistent championship, the players won’t be in the rhythm and it will be very difficult for them to go through the college circuit in the United States to get into the NBA, » says Ralph Ganthier.

The last time a Haitian player played in the NBA was on December 28, 2019.

In addition to the lack of consistent competitions, insecurity prevents young Haitians from getting opportunities to join American universities and eventually the NBA.

In March 2021, the founder of RPA College (Texas, USA), Reggie Calhoun, visited Haiti. During his visit, he met with the leaders of the Haitian Basketball Federation in view of finalizing a contract that could help the federation.

At the time, according to the vice-president of the Haitian Basketball Federation (FHB), Alph Ulysse, this partnership aimed to provide « material, equipment and technical support; the creation of an academy in collaboration with RPA. In this way, the best young talents in the country would have the opportunity to join the RPA College in the USA (Texas). »

Three years after this visit, negotiations have stalled due to the insecurity that plagues the country.

Read also: The bandits burn his only and « exemplary » son in Cité Soleil. She recounts.

Contacted by AyiboPost, Alph Ulysse confirms that there was a real desire on the part of RPA College officials to establish their bases in Haiti. « They really wanted a partnership with the Haitian Basketball Federation, » says Alph. « But because of the insecurity, they couldn’t send coaches to supervise our players. »

Three years after that visit, negotiations have stalled due to the insecurity that plagues the country.

Founded in 2017 by entrepreneur Reggie Calhoun, RPA College aims to « specifically address the needs of student-athletes who have been undervalued and overlooked. » Their program provides student-athletes of different levels with access to participation in competitive sports at the junior college level, as well as the tools and resources needed to earn a four-year university degree.

For her part, basketball coach Ashley Salomon believes that there are a lot of changes to be made in Haitian basketball. « First of all, we need to have adequate infrastructure for the development of basketball in Haiti, » suggests coach Salomon. « Then there needs to be very good training for Haitian coaches and young basketball players. »

During this period of uncertainty in Haitian basketball, several players of « Haitian descent » playing in the NBA are trying to make a name for themselves.

Among those players is Montreal-born Lugentz Dort. This Canadian player stars in the Oklahoma City Thunder and is currently having a very good season with his team.

Read also: Football: The suspension of the Haitian league plunges players into prolonged unemployment

Benedict Mathurin, also born in Montreal to a Haitian mother, plays for the Indiana Pacers.

In December 2023, Mathurin was able to raise $10,000 along with several other NBA players for the Haitian community living in the state of Indiana.

Confident, the player believes he is better than Lebron James. While he averaged 14.5 points per game, an injury forced him to miss the rest of the season.

By Kervens Merisema

Cover image: Basketball player Skal Labissière, former Portland Trail-Blazers player. | © Basket USA

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Kervens Merisema est étudiant mémorant en Communication sociale à l'Université d'État d'Haïti (UEH). Passionné d'histoire et de sport, il est journaliste à AyiboSport depuis juin 2021.