DJ Strawberry leads Zamalek to BAL bronze against FAP

Former Phoenix Suns player DJ Strawberry led Zamalek to a convincing 97-74 win over FAP in the Basketball Africa League third-place playoff, and said if it were his last professional game he'd be happy with the way his career ended.

Zamalek, who had been the defending champions till crashing out against US Monastir in the semifinals on Wednesday, made light work of Cameroon's FAP. Strawberry scored a game-high 20 points, including four of seven three-pointers, and was the game MVP.

Strawberry, who turns 37 in June, was drafted out of Maryland by the Suns in 2007 and played in Arizona for a season, before spending his career playing around the world. He has been with Zamalek since January.

When asked what his plans were for the future, Strawberry said: "I have no idea what comes next for me.

"I'm getting older and I thought about not playing anymore, but playing with this group has brought me a lot of passion back to basketball and a lot of excitement.

"Today, if this was going to be my last game playing, I wanted to go out the way that I play basketball. I felt that I played that game today, and we'll see what's next for me."

FAP, meanwhile, improved significantly from their 2021 performance where they only reached the quarterfinals. They were the surprise package in the final four, and losing to Zalamek was all but expected.

Head coach Francois Enyegue said after the game that it was tough to compete against sides like Zamalek, and finalists Monastir and Petro de Luanda, as those countries [Egypt, Tunisia, and Angola respectively], all have strong professional leagues.

FAP, along with sides like Cape Town Tigers and Cobra Sports of South Sudan, do not compete is established leagues, and are always going to find facing the continental giants difficult.

Enyegue said: "One of the reasons [why FAP can't match Africa's best teams] is the strength of the local leagues.

"These players from Zamalek, Petro and Monastir have very strong local leagues and they have the possibility of playing with their recruits in the local championship, which is not the case in Cameroon.

"Players like [Tyjhai] Byers, Alexis [Wangmene] and [Charles] Minlend only just joined the team, but I'm very optimistic about this team moving forward."

The BAL final will be played on Saturday May 28 at 6pm local time [12 noon ET], and will air on ESPN in Africa, and on ESPN+ and ESPNNews in the US.

Information from Leonard Solms contributed to this report.