Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv is happy to announce the signing of Nana Papa Yaw Dwene “Pops” Mensah-Bonsu, a British forward/center of Ghanaian descent, to a two-year contract. This excellent athlete, who was in high demand throughout Europe this summer, is currently competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in London with Team Great Britain. Last season, he led Turkish team BeşiktaşMilangaz to an historic triple, taking the Turkish Cup, the Turkish Championship, and the EuroChallenge.
Club chairman Shimon Mizrahi said of the new player: “Pops Mensah-Bonsu was in very high demand this summer by a number of European teams, but he chose to come to Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv. He completes the puzzle at center for us.”
Mensah-Bonsu (28, 6’9”), a human spring who plays both the forward and center positions, was born in London but moved to the United States as a teen and played for the Hun School of Princeton (Princeton, N.J.)before transferring to St. Augustine College Preparatory School (Richland, N.J.). In 2002 he enrolled at George Washington University, where he played power forward and center and majored in psychology. In his fourth and final season at GW (2005 – 2006), Pops posted impressive averages of 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
In 2006 – 2007, after a successful season in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Pops joined the Dallas Mavericks and played in 12 games. That same season, Mensah-Bonsu also played for the Fort Worth Flyers in the NBA Development League, where he was a standout with averages of 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds in 26 games. The following season Pops made his European debut, joining Benetton Treviso of Italy where in 31 Italian League games he averaged 9.2 points and 8.3 rebounds; in the Eurocup he contributed 10 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. In May of 2008 he joined B.C. Granada of Spain for a single game, in which he scored 22 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, made 3 steals and 3 blocks.
The start of the 2008 – 2009 season found Pops with Spanish team Joventut Badalona, but he was injured early in the season and forced to leave the team. By January 2009 he had recovered from his injury, and returned to the D-League, playing for the Austin Toros and averaging 26.6 points, 13 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game (8 games). In March of that year he was called up to the Toronto Raptors, where he remained until the end of the season and played in 18 games, averaging 5.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Mensah-Bonsu continued to play for the Raptors in the NBA as the 2009 – 2010 season got underway, but was released in January and moved on to European powerhouse CSKA Moscow. In 2010 – 2011 he joined the New Orleans Hornets where he played in 7 games.He then joined AVSEL Villeurbanne of France, where he remained until the end of the season. Pops’ NBA career included 61 games in total. In 14 games in France, he succeeded in claiming the title King of the Rebounds with an average of 9.3 per game (he also contributed 16.5 points per game).
Last season Pops played for BeşiktaşMilangaz of Istanbul, where he averaged 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in the Turkish League, leading his team to a double as well as a EuroChallenge title. That season, Mensah-Bonsu was named King of the Rebounds in the EuroChallenge with an average of 11.8 per game, and finished fourth in points scored with an average of 18.5 per game. Pops also claimed the EuroChallenge Final Four MVP award after finishing the Final with extremely impressive stats of 26 points and 20 rebounds against Élan Chalon-sur-Saôneof France (whom Maccabi will face this coming season in the Euroleague). Incidentally, Pops finished the semi-final game with “only” 13 points and 13 rebounds. He also won the Turkish slam dunk contest that season.
Since 2008 Mensah-Bonsu has been a regular fixture on Great Britain’s National Team. In the Eurobasket 2009 competition he contributed averages of 12.5 points7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. In the preliminaries his team faced off twice against Team Israel; in Britain Pops scored 22 points and snagged 11 rebounds, while at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv he was held to 8 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. In the preliminary round of Eurobasket 2011 his average improved to 19.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, though he missed out on the finals due to injury. This summer he is participating in the Olympics in London, where in his first game – against the Russian National Team, which is coached by Maccabi’s own David Blatt - he played well, scoring 22 points (12 of 16 from the foul line) and took 9 boards. Pops finished his second game of the Olympics(against Brazil) with a double-double: 13 points and 12 rebounds.