Mo Tangara and Lute Olson teamed up to bring a Rwanda International basketball team to America to participate in a tournament in Tucson.
Zona Zealots has kept up with Mo Tangara since he has returned to the states to keep Wildcats fans up to speed with his career. I invited Mo on our former Internet sports show The Sports Lounge Live to talk about his time at Arizona, share some fun stories, and to see how passionate he is about helping other young, African basketball players to come to America to live the dream he was able to live.
Mo’s interview comes in about the 33:00 mark:
This is just the start. Former Arizona Wildcats basketball player Mo Tangara wants to make a difference in the world. Specifically, he wants to bring more basketball players to America to live the American basketball dream. He very much wanted to bring a team to America from Mali, the country he was born and raised in, but it wasn’t meant to be.
However, Mo was able to bring a team to Tucson from Rwanda! He did of course have a little help along the way.
Tangara teamed up with Hall of Fame Coach Lute Olson, Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunningham, official sponsors Visit Tucson, Royal Automotive group, Iridius capital along with other sponsors like Nike, McDonald’s and PIMA Federal Credit Union to put on a tournament.
At the post-tournament banquet, Lute asked the spokesperson from the Rwandan team what surfaces they play basketball on back home, one of the answers was, “Concrete courts” to which he quipped, “That’s not a good place to draw a charge! You’d remember that for a long time.” He gave all the credit to Mo, and that was certainly heartwarming to see.
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The Rwandan team is very tall, and their opponents hailed from Tucson in this tournament. Mo and Lute worked with the Rwandan team, and Lute felt they need a lot of practice. He urged the players to go back home and keep on working on basketball, “Don’t ever put the basketball down, every day you have to work on your basketball skills. Basketball is a sport that requires a lot of time; you need to work on their fundamentals.”
Lute was pretty funny; he joked with them on their skills or lack thereof. “I still didn’t see any block outs..you know they’re ball watchers,” Olson said, “That happens with a lot of freshmen who would come here, the ball goes up, and I think they think by looking hard enough at the ball it’s going to knock the ball off. I didn’t see many of you take my advice.”
Coach Olson thought they should get more offensive rebounds, and that they did well on passing and defensive rebounds. He continued to give them magnificent advice during his motivating speech. We don’t know if these young players really understood just who they were getting advice from, but it was darn good advice!
Zona Zealots support’s Mo and Lute’s efforts, and we cannot wait to report that many more teams from different countries within the African continent participated in future tournaments. Mo appreciates all the support he gets from Wildcats fans, and if you would like to help him with his philanthropic efforts, you can find him on Twitter at @MoTangara. BearDown Mo and Lute!