Viewers on DStv can look forward to thrills and spills from the world’s best basketball league, as ESPN 2 brings live action from the 2019-20 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, from Friday 21 to Thursday 27 August 2020, as the all-important playoffs get underway.Viewers on DStv can look forward to thrills and spills from the world’s best basketball league, as ESPN 2 brings live action from the 2019-20 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, from Friday 21 to Thursday 27 August 2020, as the all-important playoffs get underway.
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While the Atlanta Seahawks’ NBA season ended long ago – they were not included in the restart ‘bubble’ in Disneyland due to their low ranking in the Eastern Conference (second from bottom, with only the Cleveland Cavaliers below them) – they still made history by fielding Bruno Fernando, the first Angolan player to feature in the NBA.
The 22-year-old was born in Angola’s capital, Luanda, and stands a heady 2.06m (6ft9in) tall. The power forward first caught the eye of U.S. scouts when he represented Angola in the 2014 FIBA U-17 World Championship, and he soon joined the Montverde Academy (high school) in Florida.
His college career ran from 2017 to 2019 and saw him play for the Maryland Terrapins, before he was the 34th overall pick in the NBA draft last year, picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Atlanta Seahawks.
On 24 October 2019, Fernando made his debut in the NBA, coming off from bench in a 117–100 win over the Detroit Pistons. He registered seven points, three rebounds and two assists.
It was to be the first of 56 games for Fernando this season, before the Seahawks’ campaign was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic and a poor record which saw them excluded from the restart. The rookie showed immense signs of promise, but there is still room for improvement, according to head coach Lloyd Pierce.
“The speed of the game is probably the biggest challenge for [Fernando],” Pierce said. “He has been a big, physical, featured played at the collegiate level. And he’s a big, physical, complementary player at this level, who is learning how to play against guys who are equally as big – or bigger – and a lot faster.”
“We feel like there was more there than you were able to see at Maryland,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said of Fernando. “You’re going to see him step out and shoot threes. He’s going to be a good three-point shooter in this league.”
Fernando may not have pulled up any trees in his first NBA season, but the prospect of becoming a top performer is a very real one for the Angolan, who will be itching to get back to competitive action when the 2020-21 season gets underway later this year.
Bruno Fernando 2019-20 NBA stats
Minutes per game – 12.7
Field goal percentage – 51.8
Three point percentage – 13.5
Free throw percentage – 56.9
Points per game – 4.3
Rebounds per game – 3.5
Assists per game – 0.9
Blocks per game – 0.3