VUT scholarship a win for Eswatini and Lubasi

Playing in the BAL would be an amazing feat for Lubasi

VAAL University of Technology player Richard Lubasi talks to The Big Tip Off about his basketball journey, the crowning moment of his career and his ambition.

BTO: Where and when did you develop your love basketball?

RL: In Eswatini, about nine years ago. I’d shoot hoops and play scrimmages after school till 5 pm every day.

BTO: Who are the people that helped to shape you as a basketball player?

RL: I’ve got a couple: my older brother Matt Lubasi for setting a high standard, since he was a great player in his own right, coach Andile Thwala for developing my game and teaching me key fundamentals, and other top Swati coaches who were always willing to share tips and encouragement.

BTO: What are the strong aspects of your game?

RL: Shooting and scoring.

BTO: What aspects of your game do you feel need work?

RL: I could improve my physical game.

BTO: How would you describe yourself as a basketball player?

RL: I can shoot the ball and create my own shots consistently. Not only am I competitive, but I’m also versatile and can play multiple positions. I’m also willing to give my very best for the team.

Richard Lubasi
Richard Lubasi makes attempts a lay-up against UP-Tuks during the Varsity Basketball tournament. Pictures: THE BTO

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball game? Can you describe it?

RL: Yeah. I was all over the place. Didn’t particularly have a good game, because I made so many mistakes, and my team lost dismally. It was a great learning experience for me though.

BTO: What has been your biggest achievement in basketball so far?

RL: Being awarded a basketball scholarship at VUT. I felt like that was big for Eswatini Basketball in that it put us on the map.

BTO: In the 2018 USSA finals against Wits you made a clutch free throw that helped your team to win the final. Can you describe the pressure of that moment? And how it felt to emerge victorious?

RL: I remember that moment like it was yesterdayIt was immense pressure for sure. The energy from the crowd was electric. It was nerve-wracking for me, especially since I came off the bench! However, I was confident that I’d make at least one free throw and doing that on the biggest stage and clinching the title was sensational. I cannot express that feeling in words. It was also a defining point in my basketball career. 

BTO: What was your lowest moment?

RL: Losing to Wits in last year’s Varsity cup. I felt like we deserved to win and we were victims of an officiating blunder that saw them awarded free points. And when we scored, our baskets weren’t counted. But hey, mistakes do happen.

BTO: Who is the toughest player you have faced on the basketball court? And why?

RL: Tsakani Ngobeni. He can simply do it all. One moment he’s playing point guard and making plays and the next moment he’s on the post down low. And he’s doing all of that at a high level of efficiency. 

BTO: Who is the best player in South Africa? And why?

RL: Neo Mothiba. His work ethic is second to none and it’s evident every time he steps on the court. 

BTO: Who is the best coach you have played for? And why?

RL: Coach Thabang Kgwedi. He is a great reader of the game and has a very high basketball IQ. I learnt a lot just playing under his leadership.

Richard Lubasi
Richard Lubasi during the Varsity basketball tournament.

BTO: What is the difference between basketball played in the Basketball National League (BNL) and at the varsity level?

RL: Experience! Basketball in the BNL has a lot more experienced players than at varsity level.

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball kicks?

RL: Yeah, Kobe 2 Lite.

BTO: Which kicks are you currently rocking? And why?

RL: Hyperdunks. They are very comfortable and light

BTO: What is your favourite sport or general quote?

RL: “Look in the mirror… that’s your competition”.

BTO: Where do you see yourself going with basketball or an alternative career?

RL: There are no limits, but playing in the Basketball Africa League would be an amazing feat.

BTO: If you were not a basketball player, what would you be doing?

RL: Playing football ⚽️. It’s the first sport that I was introduced to.

BTO: Who is the biggest influence in your life, off the basketball court?

RL: My mom. She’s the strongest woman I know.

BTO: How have you been keeping busy during the lockdown?

RL: Apart from schoolwork, I’ve been jogging and doing home workouts to maintain fitness. 

BTO: What words of encouragement do you have for people during this time of COVID-19?

RL: These are tough times we’re living in and what is happening is real. Let’s prevent colossal damage and protect each other because nothing is guaranteed in life and anything can happen. Let’s stay safe and adhere to the regulations. 



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