He arrived in Cairo in early February relatively unknown to local and Basketball Africa League (BAL) fans, but Edgar Sosa left as one of the most talented players the BAL has ever seen in action.
In his first basketball experience in Africa, the Dominican American shooting guard didn’t take long to win the hearts of Zamalek fans, although he finished the season with a bittersweet taste. Playing as hosts of the Nile Conference in Cairo, Zamalek finished 5-0 and advanced to the 2022 BAL playoffs as the only team that had never tasted defeat in the history of the league.
They arrived in Kigali for the post-season with an 11-0 winning streak dating back to the inaugural season, but in the playoffs, things didn’t work according to plan for the White Knights.
Sosa admits he had moments to remember during BAL Season 2, but he also feels that the winners of the inaugural BAL season could have done better than a third-place finish this season.
“A lot of things came into play for us,” Sosa told the bal.nba.com.
“Prior to the BAL playoffs, we hadn’t played a game together for over 25 days. We lost early in the semi-finals of the Egyptian league, then we had to wait a month for the BAL. Because of the organization, we couldn’t get out to another country to scrimmage teams; It was pretty much just practices.” “From my experience, not playing live; not having real game competition, it kind of hurt us, whereas Monastir they played all the way through. They won the Championship in their league and teams kept playing throughout April and May.”
Despite missing out on the most important game of the season after an 88-81 semi-final defeat to eventual champions US Monastir, Sosa remained positive.
“I sum it [season] up in a very positive light,” he observed.
“We just lost at the wrong time. You must give Monastir a lot of credit because that night at the semi-finals they played much better than we did, but I think overall, it was a great season for us.”
Zamalek outclassed FAP 97-74 in the third-place game. “Obviously we wanted to go undefeated to be champions, but we just didn’t have it all together versus Monastir in that semi-final game, which cost us to win another championship,” Sosa lamented.
A former Louisville University standout who, just over a decade ago, embarked on a professional career that took him as far as Israel, Germany, Puerto Rico, Iran, and France, Sosa describes his time with Zamalek during the BAL Season 2 as a time to remember.
“I never played for a league that was as organized; the exposure that it gets to players, it’s just something amazing. It’s something I haven’t been a part of anything like that in my professional career.”
Named in the 2022 All-BAL First Team alongside Ater Majok and Radhouane Slimane (US Monastir), Carlos Morais (Petro de Luanda), and Terrel Stoglin (AS Salé), Sosa recalled that season two of the BAL was one of the highlights of his career.
And when asked to name the toughest and best opponent Zamalek faced throughout the BAL season, the 6-foot-3 guard replied: “I will have to say Petro [de Luanda].”
He continued: “Although we beat them in Cairo, and they went on to lose in the final game against Monastir, you have to be careful about a team that has been together for so long and they have so much chemistry.”
“It would have been a fun game to play them again in the final. We were looking forward to it, but we couldn’t just make it there, but Petro was the best team that we played.”
Currently a free agent, Sosa insists that if another opportunity to return to the BAL presented in front of him, he wouldn’t have ways to decline it.
“If I was to get the opportunity for [the BAL] season 3, obviously it is an opportunity that I can’t turn down,” Sosa emphasized.
For most of the four games that Sosa featured in the Nile Conference, Zamalek fans made their presence felt with incredible support for their heroes.
And Sosa, who led Zamalek in scoring with 19.5 points per game during the regular season, not only received standing ovations every time he hit the basket from beyond the arc but he was also treated with special chants to his name.
“It was awesome,” Sosa reflected.
“In the Super League in Egypt, we weren’t allowed to play with fans for most of the year. You could see some love from the fans through social media and things like that, but that was the first time all year that we actually played in front of a packed house. My teammates told me that I would love to play in front of Zamalek fans because they are so passionate and, they were absolutely right.”
Asked what the BAL meant to him, Sosa revealed what his perspective was before becoming a BAL player: “I heard so much about it last season, but you really can’t know much until you are in it, and it’s just been amazing just to be a part of it.”
“It changed my perspective because when you think about the BAL or basketball in Africa in general, I don’t think there’s anything that comes close to the organization of the BAL. Just the way they take care of the players, the way everything is set up; it’s an exposure that you don’t get in a lot of places, especially in a lot of places that I played, including Europe.”
“It was the first time in my professional career that people from back home in the United States were able to watch me play live. Just because the games were live on NBA TV and ESPN back in the States, so many of my old friends who haven’t seen me play live in over ten years got that opportunity. That was just awesome.”
Only time will tell if Sosa will become a two-time BAL participant.