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Spicy P, the new flagship of African basketball

08.06.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Since its inception on June 6, 1946, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has always been considered one of the best basketball championships in the world. She saw many stars passing through and succeeding, some of whom became her ambassadors in the world. She has also forged and made many stars whose Nicknames are now a trademark and an inheritance; like Scottie P, the Black Cat, the Black Mamba, the King, and the Process. Today, the NBA is seeing the birth of Spicy P, a new reference of selflessness, hard work and humility.

Born on April 2, 1994 in Douala, Cameroon, Pascal Siakam or “Piment Siakam” as fondly called by his peers, is a Cameroonian basketball player who evolves to the position of strong forward. Pascal is 2.06m tall and weighs 104 kg.  This basketball superstar was not known to the public a year ago but today, he is a sure bet in the NBA, with a rewarding course that he owes to himself.

After being discovered in 2011 during a summer camp at the age of 19, he saw events accelerate for him: participation in a program for young talents in South Africa, obtaining a university scholarship for the United States, then recruitment by the New Mexico State University. He took part in the G-League Championship between 2014 and 2016 with the Aggies team, and at the end of his last year; he received the Western Athletic Conference’s Best Player of the Year award. He also finished the champion that same year and took the title of MVP (Most valuable Player) during the finals. The consecration for him comes on June 23, 2016, when he is selected in the draft by the Toronto Raptors’ Masai Ujiri at the 27th position of the first round of the draft NBA 2016. This marked the beginning of the Spicy P riddle.

The catalog of the simple “energizer player”

During his first two seasons in the NBA, Pascal Siakam was simply known as an “energizer player”, comparing him with an electric battery bringing an impulse of energy to the whole team by his motivation, adrenaline, attitude, or by his actions.  Examples of such tales in this NBA register range from the likes of Nate Robinson, Dennis Rodman, Kenneth Faried and Joakim Noah, who can only wish to have the same career path.

In his debut, confined almost exclusively to defensive tasks and serving as a motivation engine for his teammates on and off the field, the one yet be called Spicy P is considered a very hard player, and it is there that he makes his hole and wins in the rotation of the best bench NBA of last year with statistics that are significantly better, compared to his season Rookie from 4.2 to 7.3 points per game and 15 to 20 minutes. In spite of this clear progression, Spicy P will still be considered as just a player out of the bench under the orders of former coach of the franchise Dwane Casey. We will then witness the blossoming of a much more complete player under the command of Nick Nurse, appointed to replace the very experienced Dwane Casey.

A much more complete player

The big upheaval for Spicy P comes with the appointment of Nick Nurse as “Head Coach” of the Toronto Raptors in June 2018, who trusted him with bigger responsibilities. The latter, knowing the potential of the Cameroonian, made him join the major five of the team where he played alongside starters like Kahwi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Thanks to a remarkable season in which he posted an individual average of 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 interception in 31.9 minutes, he is probably the most credible for the title of Most Improved Player (MIP), that is the player with the most progress during the season.

In this brilliant Canadian team, Spicy P will gradually assert himself and even begin to establish performances that will earn him more respect within the franchise. Two of Spicy P’s most memorable performances are the night of February 13, 2019, when during the regular season game against the Washington Wizards, he compiles an individual statistic of 44 points, 10 rebounds and 3 backs, and the still recent May 31, 2019 in the first game of the NBA finals against the Golden State Warriors where he finished the match with 32 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 1 interception in 40 minutes becoming at the same time the fifth most prolific player at the ‘A NBA Finals Game in the last thirty years behind legends like Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan and Tim Ducan.

It’s Africa that wins

Thanks to the performances of African players such as Al-Farouq Aminu, Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Luc Mbah A Moute, Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam, the recognition of Africa in the field of the big orange ball is growing. Their performances make Africa an immense reservoir of talented and hard-working players who can compete in the world’s largest basketball league. For example, Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner announced in collaboration with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the creation of a professional league in Africa, which will be launched in January 2020. It will be called the “Basketball Africa League” (BAL) and will comprise twelve teams. The goal here is to use basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa.

Pending the end of the NBA finals, and perhaps a possible final victory for the Toronto Raptors, who will bring back a first NBA ring in Cameroon, we can only wish Spicy P to follow in the footsteps of his peers and thus benefit the All of Africa’s first Pascal Siakam camps that will undoubtedly find other African talents.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Credit image : google image

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