Zach Andrews
Former Los Angeles Lakers player Zach Andrews landed in Cap-Haitien on May 27, 2022 with SportsPower International for a game against All-Star University and to scout for a potential project. Photo by Oldjy Francois for The Haitian Times

CAP-HAITIEN — A group of former NBA and college basketball players landed in Cap-Haitien May 27 to scout the city for an upcoming project, play a game with a local all-star team and host a basketball clinic.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said former Los Angeles Lakers player Zach Andrews about Haiti. “I look forward to coming back already. This is just the tip of the iceberg to be honest with you. This is just to see how everything plays out.”

The players are members of SportsPower International, a non-profit organization based in Baltimore, Maryland. Its stated mission is to “change the lives of people who are hurting” through basketball clinics, school assemblies, urban outreaches and by visiting orphanages. As for what SportsPower hopes to do in Haiti, things are still in the air.

“I don’t know until I talk to the mayor and find out what people on the island want to do,” said SportsPower President Bill Alexson. “We’re excited about making an impact. So many youths look up to athletes, especially NBA basketball players, so we’re here to be an encouragement to them.”

Among the retired players who made the four-day trip are David Wood, who played alongside Micheal Jordan for the Chicago Bulls in 1988, former Orlando Magic shooting guard Wesley Fluellen, ex-Golden State Warriors center Mamadou N’Diay and former Houston Rockets shooting guard Jermaine Taylor.

Friday, city officials welcomed the players and other members of SportsPower at the Cap-Haitien International Airport and later escorted them to City Hall.

“They’re here to look at opportunities in the city,” said Bernovil Philippe, the manager of the Partnership of International Cooperation of the City Hall. “They’re here to look for people who are going through hardships to help.”

SportsPower will host the basketball clinic May 28 at Gymnasium Champ de Mars in Cap-Haitien before members of the organization speak at the Tabernacle Church the following day. Alexson said the group plans to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ during their trip.

SportsPower will face All-Star University, which is a team made up of the best players from the Innovation Basketball Okap (IBO) league on May 29 at Gymnasium Champ de Mars. The IBO players look forward to stepping on the same court with NBA retirees.

IBO, Paul Emmanuel Eustache ,
Paul Emmanuel Eustache (center) and an All-Star University teammate at the Cap-Haitien City Hall on May 25, 2022. Photo by Oldjy Francois for The Haitian Times

“It has always been my dream,” said small forward Paul Emmanuel Eustache, 30, about playing against former or current NBA players. “They will learn about our environment and we will learn about theirs. Two mountains never cross paths, but two humans can.”

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.

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