American pro-basketball will be coming to the Caspian region, thanks to a partnership between the Junior League of the National Basketball Association of America (NBA), the National Basketball Federation (NBF) of Kazakhstan and the U.S. embassy in Astana.
Kazakhstan’s very first Junior NBA 2017-2018 will bring together more than 150 young athletes in the capital city of Astana and the former capital of Almaty.
“For the first time in Central Asia, youth will have the opportunity to participate in the Jr. NBA league, where they will wear the jerseys of their favorite teams from the NBA. I hope this new partnership will provide a spark for youth sports in Kazakhstan,” said George Krol, the US Ambassador to Kazakhstan.
Both boys and girls will participate, ranging in ages from 10 to 13. The league will feature 15 school teams from Astana and 15 school teams from Almaty, with each representing one of the 30 teams of the NBA.
Similar to the NBA, the teams in each league will be divided into two conferences and six divisions. The top eight teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs. The top two teams from each conference will then meet in the league finals to be held in Astana, to determine the first two Jr. NBA NBF Kazakhstan League champions.
The program will run from November through April 2018.
U.S. Department of State Sports Envoys and former NBA and WNBA stars Vladimir Radmanović and Taj McWilliams-Franklin are already in Kazakhstan to participate in a series of events sponsored by the U.S. embassy. Events include junior NBA clinics, speaking engagements and the junior NBA NBF Kazakhstan League Draft.
“The joint project of the NBF and the Jr. NBA in Kazakhstan is a great way to spark the interest of children in basketball. I am very happy that a new location in the territory of Central Asia has appeared on the Jr. NBA map for the first time, and it was Kazakhstan that started the large-scale Jr. NBA-NBF project,” said NBF’s President Dimash Dossanov.
Kazakhstan’s NBF is the only formal organization that is promoting the game of basketball in the country. The NBF organizes leagues and holds basketball championship tournaments for adults, including Kazakhstan’s Cup, the National League, and the Higher League. It also organizes the Children’s and Youth Basketball Leagues.
“The National Basketball Federation of Kazakhstan sees the popularization of basketball among school-age children as one of the country’s basketball development priorities,” Dossanov stressed.