Born in 1994 in Bandundu, a city in the west of the Republic of Congo, he was discovered by Anicet Lavodrama (Spanish naturalized center, born in the Central African Republic and player of Ferrol for 8 seasons, 3 in the Forum Valladolid and 1 in the Youth of Badalona) in a campus organized in the sub-Saharan country in his continuous search for discovering new values.
In 2010 he played the V edition of our Tournament. At that time, he was 224 cm tall, with a wingspan of 245 cm and wore a 56. He had arrived in Badalona a year earlier, accompanied by another Congolese player, Webber Lufanga, with more projection than Bienvenu.
On 1 March 2010, the DKV Seguros Foundation and Juventud financed an operation for a tumour in his pituitary gland to reduce the future effects of his illness, Acromegalia, similar to the gigantism of players such as Roberto Dueñas or George Muresan.
Bienvenu had previously played for a team in Kinshasha, the same team as Dikembe Mutombo.
On February 23rd of this year with Anicet Lavodrama and Carlos Jiménez, journalist of Solobasket, who were the two people who had direct contact with Bienvenu, we created a WhatsApp group with the Spanish Association of Acromegaly and the CDE Portus Victoriae, to follow Bienvenu’s life and the possibility of incorporating him in Santander socially and professionally.
However, his physical characteristics, his pathology… made it difficult for him to have a productive life as an adult, who wants to cover his needs and help his family.
Anicet hoped to give him this possibility, because Bienvenu was then living “in the big city of Kinshasa, which is quite cosmopolitan. Culturally, he would have no problem, only having an environment where he could feel he had a chance to earn a decent living. What was traumatic for Bienvenu was not when he arrived from Kinshasa to Badalona, but when he had to return to the Congo without having been able to finish his baccalaureate, or any vocational training, and without being able to continue playing basketball without a salary or real prospects of earning a living”.
Bienvenu managed to start two projects in 2018: a small tobacconist’s shop (drinks, chocolates, newspapers and soaps) and a vegetable garden for potatoes and cassava. But the impacts of the Covid-19 restrictions forced him to abandon these projects.
In order to spread the knowledge of Acromegalia among the participants of the Tournament, through a brief talk with the members of the Association before the opening ceremony of the Tournament, we wanted Bienvenu to accumulate all his personal experience, since he arrived at Juventud, one of the best historical quarries of our basketball, and to collect as much material as possible, including, if possible, some pictures of him that could be part of a small supporting document.
Shortly afterwards, we learned through Anicet that Bienvenu had tuberculosis, but he was already undergoing treatment and we thought that, as he was still fighting to get ahead, it was still possible to achieve the goal we had set ourselves.
But on the 2nd of May he could no longer maintain his fighting spirit, which the best pivots have, and he passed away.
The CDE Portus Victoriae would like to thank the Spanish Association of Acromegaly, whose conference is still on, Jordi Martí, coach and friend of Bienvenu, who has maintained a personal relationship with him over the years, providing him as much help as he could, Carlos Jiménez, one of whose articles on Bienvenu was the starting point of our project, and to Anicet Lavodrama, a person I did not know and in whom I have discovered personal qualities above and beyond his professional career, for having allowed us to share the illusion of all of us to have achieved the best for that Big Boy who, deep down, was Bienvenu Letuni (DEP).
We are closing agreements with several media outlets, including television stations, so that the Tournament can be followed every day. Among others, the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the two finals, will be filmed. The Press Department has been working towards this end for several weeks.
As we said in the first news item, after 12 years things have totally changed. And, after consulting with teams that participated or not in the first five editions, we have realised that the dates initially proposed, in line with those, do not fit in with the annual planning of the teams.
For this reason, in the last few days we have been working quietly to achieve the first objective: the best accommodation for the participants on the new dates, when Santander receives thousands of visitors, and in the smallest number of them. We have already booked them and we are just waiting for a budget.
The VI International Basketball Tournament City of Santander U14 will take place during Easter Week 2023, from 6th to 9th April, with 24 teams of 12 players and 2 coaches, 12 boys’ teams and, for the first time, 12 girls’ teams, reserving 8 (4+4) for the Cantabrian teams which, in reality, are 6 because, as you know, Astillero has already signed up its 2 teams.
From next Monday 21st November we will be informing you of all the news as they happen.
Based on the information in our possession, a total of 10 children who participated in the International Basketball Tournament Ciudad de Santander (hereinafter, the Tournament), reached the highest levels both in their teams of origin and in other teams, and even at international level. We will review it in four chapters in a random order that seemed to us to be more homogeneous.
In the III edition, whose final was played in the incomparable setting of the Plaza Porticada, the MVP was the Real Madrid player FRANCISCO “KIKO” JIMÉNEZ CORTÉS. A 186 cm. forward, born in the capital of Spain on 5 January 1994 and U16 International, with a brief stint in the EBA League.
In that final, won by a hitherto unbeatable in the Tournament merengue team, Kiko scored 35 points with two spectacular dunks for a child of only 13 years, which lifted the audience from their seats.
Two players from Juventud de Badalona, who also took part in the third edition of the tournament, appear on this list:
ALBERT HOMS AGUILAR. Point guard (180 cm) born in Mataró on 23 May 1994. He made his debut for Juventud on 12 December 2010, being the fourth youngest to do so (202 cm), until 2013.
International U16 in Gijón, he was the MVP of the aforementioned tournament. In the Ragusa Tournament (Italy), he was chosen as the player with the best projection. Fourth place in the European Championship in Montenegro in 2010. Finally, champion at the U18 European Championship in Poland 2011.
AGUSTÍ SANS VALLS: Born in Mahón on 27 February 1995. Point guard (185 cm), who debuted in Juventud at the age of 18 but, immediately, is loaned to other teams of lower level. He is currently part of the Alega Cantabria Club squad (194 cm) in LEB Silver.
International in the U16 and U18 Europeans, being bronze medalist in both cases, and in the U20 where he won two silver medals (Greece 2014 and Italy 2015).
ORIOL PAULÍ FORNELLS (175 cm) is Barcelona’s point guard/small forward. Born in Girona on 20 May 1994, runner-up of the III TIBCS, he plays in the ACB from the 2014/15 season (201 cm) until the 2019/20 season in Herbalife Gran Canaria, being champion of the 2016/17 Endesa Supercup, and from this to the current 2021/22 season in Morabanc Andorra. U18 international and silver medalist at the U20 European Championship in Greece.
GUILLEM VIVES TORRENS who, in the ranks of Juventud Badalona, played the V TIBCS, was born in Barcelona on 16 June 1993. In the 2013/14 season he plays as a point guard (192 cm.) in the “peña” and from 2014 to 2021 in Valencia to, in the current season, return to Juventud.
International in U18, gold in Poland, and in U20, bronze in Turkey, undoubtedly his greatest achievements have been the gold in Eurobasket 2015 (France) and bronze in 2017.
MIQUEL SALVÓ LLAMBRICH, born in Villanueva y Geltrú on 3 November 1994, played in the V edition with the champion, Barcelona, 205 cm small forward. After playing for half a dozen teams, including Belgian side Charleroi, he debuted in the Endesa League in the 2019/20 season with San Pablo Burgos, where he also played the following season to be crowned in both as Basketball Champions League champion and with the Intercontinental Cup title. From 8 July 2021 he will play for Herbalife Gran Canaria.