Four Basketball Africa League (BAL) games was everything American Terrel Stoglin needed to display his scoring prowess on the continent of Africa early this year, an experience that he looks forward to repeating if an opportunity arises.
Five months ago, the former Maryland University standout was vital for Morocco’s perennial champions AS Salé, although the former African champions fell short in the quarterfinals of the first edition of the BAL held in Kigali, Rwanda. AS Salé may have returned home with a 2-2 mark, but Stoglin entered the history books as the first player to score 40 points in a BAL game when he propelled the Moroccans to a 88-79 victory over AS Police of Mali in the group stages of the tournament.
The 6ft guard, who played as recently as last week for Iraq’s Al-Shorta FC, was packing his luggage to go home when he spared some of his time to talk to The BAL website.
Q . Thanks for your time to talk to us, Terrel. What have you been up to since the BAL in Kigali?
A. Right after the BAL I went home, I trained and signed in Iraq.
_Q. Can you share with us your experience of playing in the first-ever Basketball Africa League?_
My experience there was exciting. Nothing like that has happened in Africa.
When I won the Championship with Zamalek in 2019, they were telling me about the big time that NBA Africa was working on. I didn’t pay too much attention to it at the time. When I went to AS Salé in Morocco, right before COVID happened, they were telling me that’s where we were going. I was excited about it. When we finally got there [Kigali], it was a relief just to see how professional it was. I remember when we first saw the court, everyone was going crazy. Look at this, look at the arena. That’s how we all felt. It was great.
Q. AS Salé is one of the powerhouse teams in Africa, but it unable to move beyond the quarterfinals. As a team, do you feel you could you have done better given your record on the continent?
A. I don’t think it was a failure because, just like other teams, AS Salé was going through to different things. They didn’t have all the players that made it a powerhouse. Those players left. It wasn’t the AS Salé team that we all were used to. I had played against them in Lebanon. I think that we did better than we should have.
Q. Whatever happens in the BAL, your name has entered the history books after setting a record for most points scored in a single game against AS Police of Mali. How special was that for you?
A. It was very special because the BAL was the first time I played for almost eleven months. I was rusty. It was a mental battle to come and play at the high level. Just to see the hard work that I put in, there is no greater feeling. Not to mention that I had seven points at half time. I was struggling in the first half. I couldn’t make a shot to save my life.I have been playing like this for years. It wasn’t really anything that I didn’t expect. If anything, I feel like I could have played better. I didn’t shot the ball well. With COVID, a lot of players and a lot of teams were out the whole year. That was my first time playing basketball for about eleven months.
Q. Do you feel AS Salé could have handled things differently during the BAL?
A. I think we did better than what we should have. I don’t think we had the team to go to the semi-finals or the finals. But went to the playoffs, and that was big for us, because, I don’t think we were expected to go.
Q. Looking at the 12 team in the BAL, was your former team Zamalek the best team in the competition?
A. From my view, yeah. They won it, right? I believe they were the best team in the competition.
Q. Playing in a competition like the BAL was a unique experience for most players. What was your impression of the level of teams in the competition?
A. It was everything that I expected. It was good basketball. I got the chance to play against teams that I didn’t know who they were in Africa because I only played in Egypt and Morocco. It was pretty dope.
Q. In four BAL games, AS Salé lost twice to Petro de Luanda. What did Petro do that AS Sale couldn’t handle?
A. They were a better team than us. Everything has to do with the team management that players can’t do much. That team, they pay their players, and they had strong players. We had just gotten together. We didn’t know each other like that. A lot of players from AS Salé left. We faced a lot of challenges in the BAL.
Q. Do you see yourself playing in the Basketball Africa League again?
A. I look forward to it. I think it’s a big thing. I love the people that I met out there; I made a lot of friends – people who worked for the BAL became my friends. It was a great experience to get to know players that I didn’t know. I would love to play this year.
Q. Obviously the COVID 19 pandemic proved challenging and the BAL had to follow several measures issued by health authorities. Playing the BAL in a bubble was one of those measures. What was your experience like of playing in a Bubble system?
A. It was tough in the first days. They brought food to us as we couldn’t leave the room. We couldn’t even practice with our team. We isolated four to five days before practice. It was tough, but honestly, the day they said we could leave the room, we went downstairs and play pool, ping-pong we had fun; then all teams came together. It was one of the best experiences I had in my career.
Q. Having played in the first edition of the BAL, where do you see the level of the BAL in the next few years?
A. It will go up. That’s why I want to continue to play [in the BAL]. The competition will go up; the media will go up. It was just the first year, and it was big. We did something special and I would like to be part of that again.
Q. Where did you get so much energy from after finishing the first half with five points and setting a BAL record?
A. It’s just about determination.