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Paul Biligha’s basketball story started on a soccer field, in Cameroon

28/07/2019
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Paul Biligha speaks a little bit about himself now that he’s on the verge of his EuroLeague debut. His story is very unique, since he was born in Perugia, moved to Cameroon and returned to Italy when he wanted to pursue a professional basketball career. “My first approach with basketball took place in Cameroon. A local coach saw me play soccer with some friends. He looked at my size and asked if I was interested in joining his team and have some basketball practices. I attempted and was interested in it. I became enamored also with some great NBA players of that time. In Cameroon was difficult to follow the NBA at the time, there wasn’t many videos and magazines, but I tried to keep up and imitate my favorite players.”

Biligha started to play the game in Cameroon, then “After two or three years, I felt I had hit a wall in terms of development. So, with my family we asked questions to ourselves. Pierpaolo Perulli, who was the Florence team general manager, and knew a friend of my father, invited me there for a try-out. I stayed in Florence, then moved to Casalpusterlengo, like Danilo Gallinari, and remained for five years. Finally, I went to Avellino. The years spent in Casalpusterlengo were important, it was like staying in a youth academy a little longer, because I wasn’t that young. I stayed until I was 21, I met great people that helped me to become the player I am now”.

Biligha played in Avellino, then Cremona was the key. There, he averaged more than ten points per game. “In Cremona, under Coach Cesare Pancotto, who was my coach in Avellino too, and gave me his confidence and playing time, I grew up a lot in that city, in a nice organization, run by Mr Vanoli. What they did last year is proof of their ability in letting the players grew up”. And he grew up, playing also in Venice the last two seasons, that now Biligha is in Milan. “Olimpia for every Italian player is a goal, because it means you are part of a organization where your goal is to win, every year, every competition, so it’s a very demanding high-level environment. When I was called up by the National team for the first time my aspiration was to make the 12-man team, because it meant something. Milan is a similar situation: after many years, spent with different teams, I have reached the top. Playing for Milan is like playing a World Championship”.

How will he fit is crystalc lear. Biligha is a high-energy player. “I play with energy and adrenaline, with the desire to defend, jump and run. That’s why I can give to any team a lot of defensive versatility and offensively some quick transition plays”.