Antonio DePina is planning to make his mark in Africa through basketball and business. The Lincoln University alumnus already has an app, American basketball venture, and budding African basketball league under his belt. Learn about how he is liberating others professionally and financially through sports in the LU release below.
For Lincoln University alum Antonio DePina, 2021 is just the beginning of something huge.
First, he was named to Africa’s 30 under 30 by Forbes Magazine, and tomorrow, he kicks off his own professional basketball league in Cape Verde, Africa. The six-team Praia League is the beginning of what DePina hopes brings more professional basketball opportunities to the continent of Africa.
“After Lincoln University I played professional basketball in Portugal and Spain, and they all had one major thing in common; I saw African players coming to Europe to play,” said DePina. “I always wondered by African players go everywhere but Africa to make their dreams come true. There is no reason to not have a league in Africa so I took it upon myself to create that. I am looking to create the biggest league in Africa, the NBA of Africa.”
The Praia League is going to be a one-month venture that concludes with a tournament from July 21 to July 23. Each of the six teams will be limited to three Americans with the rest of the roster being from the continent. Following Praia League combines in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami, the league held its first draft on May 18.
Once the Praia League concludes, DePina will transition to the Cape Verde Basketball League (CBL). The league will be a five-month league that has “all of Africa’s talent.”
“I want to create the most prominent league in Africa,” said DePina. “Instead of going to Europe, you are going to play here and then go to the NBA. The NBA will always be the best league in the world. But, Africa needs a league. So that is what I am trying to create.”
The road to the basketball leagues was paved by an app and a ton of persistence.
Following his professional career, he saw a way to improve the overseas experience. He sought out to create a one-stop app for players, agents, and teams. However, he didn’t have the expertise to bring his dream to fruition.
Developer after developer came and went, a couple of thousand dollars here, a couple of thousand dollars there. After at least five different professional coders flaked on him, DePina took matters into his own hands.
“After getting scammed, a guy ran off with two grand here, two grand here. I hired developers, and after four months of wasted time, I just decided to make it myself,” said DePina. “I was tired of people running off on me and I don’t know anything. You have to educate yourself, and that is what I did.”
He learned the basics of coding in two months, and the app was unveiled. DePina said that he learned how to be assertive in his business through the ordeal. Ultimately, the success of the app, Overseas Basketball Connection, led the Praia League. He used over $100,000 of the proceeds from the app to fund his league.
“I am betting on myself with this league,” DePina said. “I don’t feel like I am taking any losses with creating the league. Overall, I am helping the country; bringing tourism to the island, and bringing visibility to the island. Overall, I feel good.”
Games for the Praia League will be shown on local television in Praia, on Facebook, on YouTube, and via the Overseas Basketball Connection app.
It was his work with the league and the app as part of the reason why he was named Forbes Africa 30 under 30. And for him, recognition on his native continent was special.
“Forbes Africa means more to me because I am African,” said DePina. “Everything I am doing is transitioning to Africa. There is already Steve Jobs and Elon Musk in America, I can be that here. Why not be that here? There way more people in Africa than in America. There are 1.2 billion people in Africa. There is no Door Dash or Uber Eats here in Africa, why not create. I tell people if you have a business idea come to Africa. It’s like a virgin, there is nothing here.
“It was a long time coming,” DePina continued. “As an entrepreneur, you dream of being in Forbes. Forbes is like your Emmy or Grammy of the business world. I never really thought I was successful. That is just not how I think, that’s not me. Even now, I don’t think like that. Forbes kind of validates my dream; makes me feel like I am not crazy. It validated my dreams and made it worth it.”
Before making his latest impact on the overseas basketball scene, DePina found himself on season one of the Netflix show, The Circle. Within the show, contestants are isolated with their apartments, and can only communicate to the other contestants via “The Circle”, ostensibly a computer program that transcribes their messages into text as if in a social media app. Contestants are thus able to present completely different identities to others to hopefully win them over. Every so often, the group of contestants is asked to rate their fellow contestants, with the top vote-getters becoming the “Influencers” of the Circle, giving them the power to “block” one contestant from the circle, eliminating them from the game.
After a fast start, DePina was blocked on the fourth episode. Despite only lasting what amounted to four days on the show, he was able to experience the UK for about a month. While he didn’t walk away with the $100,000 prize, DePina was paid for the entire month.
So from Lincoln University to The Circle to Cape Verde, Antonio DePina is making his mark.