Canivete: Beating South Africa is one of my fondest memories

IN The Big Tip Off’s question and answer (Q & A) interview, we speak to Mozambique and Ferroviario de Maputo basketball player David Canivete JrCanivete touches on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted basketball, his greatest triumphs and adversaries on the court.

Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the globe in many ways. How is COVID-19 being dealt with in Mozambique?

A: There has been a Stage 3 state of emergency since April. There are no recorded deaths and the number of recovered and infected people is low compared to other countries in the region (southern Africa).

The public is taking the situation seriously by following the government and World Health Organisation’s recommendations. That’s why the situation is a bit stable and I hope we don’t go higher than Stage 3.

Q: How long has it been since you last played basketball and how are you feeling about that?

A: It’s been almost 45 days. I feel sad because when you are used to doing something daily with love, pride and joy, it’s hard to stop. What is worse is, you did not create the situation and that’s difficult to manage sometimes.

Q: What were you and your Ferroviario teammates’ mood when you were informed that the Basketball Africa League 2020 season was being postponed? Explain those feelings?

A: We were expecting the postponement. Before the tip off, the number of cases in Africa were already increasing. When the Sahara Division tip off was postponed, it was only a matter of time before our division followed suit. We felt a mixture of disappointment and hope, but as the days passed, we realised that the best thing to do was to stop basketball activities, stay safe and wait for updates.

Q: What are you doing with your time, now that there is no basketball until further notice?

A: I spend most of the time with my wife and my kids, I read a lot of science and culture books. I watch new movies and series and I scout other teams to get as much information as I can on them. I also try to be updated about the COVID-19 situation in the world and of course I work out, daily.

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David Canivete Jr in action against Jozi Nuggets at the Basketball Africa League qualifiers. Pictures: BTO

Q: What are you doing to stay in shape?

A: As I said, I work out. I try to run at least 10 km, three times a week. I also work on my speed, jumping, power and resistance two or three times a week. In between I make some drills and shoot around with my friend and skills coach, almost daily.

Q: How would describe yourself as a basketball player?

A: I am a team first player with a good IQ, which helps me find and create space for myself and my teammates to score. I am mentally strong and in good physical condition, which allows me to attack and defend the 3 and 4 positions. My long wingspan, helps with finishing lay-ups and in playing defence. I play well in areas near the basket and I also have a good three-point shot and mid-range jumper. I have a good ability to win offensive and defensive rebounds. So, in short, I consider myself a good two-way player.

Q: Are you superstitious or do you have something special you do before a basketball game?

A: I used to tap the roof at the entrance of the court twice when I arrived at the gym and before the game. I pray to God and I ask for blessings and protection.

Q: Who is the toughest player you have played against in basketball (locally) in Mozambique and international on the international stage? And why were they difficult to play against?

A: In Mozambique it’s Ermelindo Novela, who is my teammate. He brings a lot of intensity to the game and, he has a never-say-die spirit on defence and offence (sometimes he reminds me of myself). Internationally it’s Leonel Paulo, who plays for Angola and Petro de Luanda, for the same reasons I mentioned earlier about Ermelindo. Plus Leonel has a body type which allows him to attack and defend the 2, 3, 4 and 5 positions. I think every team should have a player or two like him.

Q: Who is your favourite player in basketball and why is that player your favourite?

A: You know back in the day, for the players of my generation and I, it used to be Fernando Mandlate. We called him Nandinho. He had amazing skills and he was a scoring machine. He was a pure one-man show. That man could make fans at the Maxaquene Arena go crazy. As a kid I imagined myself meeting and telling him personally that I am a fan of his and ask him for some tips. With God’s grace I had the pleasure of playing with him in the national team and at Ferroviario da Beira, in the latter stages of his career.

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David Canivete in action against Jozi Nuggets.  Picture: BTO

Q: Who is your favourite teammate at club level and who is your favourite teammate in the Mozambique national team? And why?

A: It’s hard to choose because I love everyone in both teams, but honestly, it’s Pio Matos Jr. He is my favourite teammate at club and international level. He has been one of my best friends for more than 15 years. We have experienced wins and losses together in life, but we never split and even when we played for different clubs, we remained tight.

When we first met, we understood each other and since then, together with his twin brother, we have always striven to elevate our game. He is also a strong character. I am one of the few, who can easily communicate with him on and off the court, sometimes with a word or by eye contact and he gets the message. I believe he’s got my back and I have his.

Q: What is your worst memory in basketball?

A: Being cut from the Mozambique team for 2007 FIBA Afrobasket in Angola. I respect coaches’ decisions, but honestly when I look back, I felt like I deserved to be part of the team.

Q: What is your best memory about playing for Mozambique?

A: My first game in the national team jersey. That was during the 2009 Afrobasket qualifiers in Maputo against South Africa. I know it’s your birth country (referring to the interviewer), but I knocked them out. Since that game, I promised myself that being called up to the national team will depend on my performances on the court.

Q: What is or was your greatest achievement in basketball and why?

A: The respect from the people who follow me, because respect is hard to earn and get nowadays, especially from people who do not believe that sports can change lives for the better.

Q: Outside of playing basketball, what is your favourite memory?

A: The birth of my children. I could not be there physically, but I was there in spirit. Honestly, I owe it my wife to be present for the birth of our next child.

Q: What would you be doing if you were not a basketball player and why that choice in career?

A: I would be a diplomat, because have I travelled a lot while playing basketball, which has allowed me to learn about different cultures and languages and I also studied international relations. I think that is a perfect match between the two fields that I love and I have a passion for both.

Q: What are the problems in Mozambican basketball? And what advice would you give, so that they are fixed or corrected?

A: Organisation, investment and commitment. Nothing is perfect, but let’s not focus only on the problems. The focus must be on the origins of those problems. Then we can find the solutions and avoid making similar mistakes in the future. We have to execute!

Q: What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

A: The Mozambican Islands. In my opinion, they are rarely explored and are one of the most beautiful in the world.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I love to have a good time with my family and friends. I love music, especially Mozambican hip hop. I am a die-hard fan of criminal investigation series, action and comedy movies… Also read, I like being up to date about current affairs.

Q: If you were president of Mozambique for the day what changes would you make?

A: Having grown up in the world of sports. That is the area where I would make changes. I would focus on infrastructure for sports; building multi-sport arenas and football courts in every city. I would make sport a very big industry, so it can be profitable and benefit the whole of society.

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