Kuminga ready to help rebuild DR Congo basketball – FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers
KINSHASA (Democratic Republic of Congo) – It took just three games for Jonathan Kuminga to become DR Congo’s leader in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Africa Qualifiers.
Even though DR Congo lost all three games in Monastir in August against Cameroon, South Sudan and Tunisia, Kuminga’s numbers speak for themselves.
“WE’RE TRYING TO REBUILD THIS TEAM. WE’RE TRYING TO PUT [DR] CONGO ON THE MAP. IT’S GOING TO TAKE A LITTLE TIME, BUT WE’LL GET IT.”
The 2.03m (6ft 8in) forward was just 19 when he made his Leopards debut when he set a team-high 17.7 points per game – passing Christian Lutete – the other DR Congo is averaging ten or more points per game in the Africa Qualifiers.
The Golden States Warriors player also recorded his team’s highest efficiency rating of 12.7 in the tournament so far, but in his own words: “We’re trying to rebuild this team. We’re trying to put [DR] Congo back on the map. it will take a little time, but we will get there, ”he observed.
The first NBA champion to take part in the African Qualifiers for the World Cup, Kuminga described his experience in Monastir as an eye-opener and urged other NBA players to play FIBA basketball.
“Being an NBA player is fun,” Kuminga said before explaining the importance of other NBA players joining basketball programs on the African continent. “Coming back and playing for your own country means a lot,” he said.
Kuminga was one of five current NBA players – alongside Gorgui Dieng (Senegal), Bruno Fernando (Angola), Ishmail Wainright (Uganda), Josh Okogie and Chimezie Metu (Nigeria) – to play in Window 4 of the Africa qualifiers for the World Cup in August.
“I wanted to be the first [DR Congo] person (who actually plays in the NBA) to represent our country. Hope this helps other guys who play in the NBA see the bigger picture by coming back and helping the country. We don’t ask too much of them, we just ask them to come here, to represent their country for a few days. It won’t take you long.
“As long as we come back and help the team, we are going to have good results,” added the 20-year-old.
Kuminga moved to the United States when he was young and had never played a competitive basketball game in Africa. And when the opportunity to represent his country presented itself, he wasted no time. After sitting out Window 3 of the Africa World Cup Qualifiers in July for personal reasons, Kuminga made sure to keep his promise to wear the Leopards uniform.
“There are no regrets,” he replied when asked about his views on his side’s 0-3 record at Monastir.
He continued: “I’m really proud of the group of guys who came to play for us. We fought until the end. It’s going to take a long time (but) as long as we stay together, we take each other’s back. brain each other, it will really help us rebuild our team. There are no regrets. I’m really happy with everyone who came together and helped build this team.”
With three games to play in the Africa Qualifiers, DR Congo sit fifth in six-team Group F with a 4-5 record.