Shine reflects on character building basketball journey

Shine: BNL final will be a battle of inches

EMMANUEL Shine has experienced the ebbs and flows of basketball. He has tasted the thrill of success and the agony of losing. When he speaks about his journey in the game one gets a feeling of a character-building process preparing him for something greater.

From his early teens, Shine was multi-talented, especially on the sports field. Before throwing his lot with basketball, he dabbled in football and athletics. He even won a high jump title during his high school days.

It was the alluring culture of basketball made Shine fall hook and sinker. Another factor was that the game gave the former Pretoria High School for Boys pupil a sense of belonging.

“At high school, we had to choose summer sports, cricket, swimming and basketball. I was not a great swimmer, and I sucked at cricket. Basketball was my last resort,” said the Suns’ big man. “Also, that is where all the black kids had gone (basketball), so it felt like home. I also played club soccer for Glenwegians, as the school did not offer the sport. So basketball was not a priority in my grade eight year. It was only in the third term that I decided to give it a shot.

“What got me hooked was the culture. Basketball has a big culture around it. That is what made me fall in love with it.”

Emmanuel Shine reflects on character building journey
Emmanuel Shine has assumed the captaincy at Tshwane Suns. Pictures: The BTO

Shine had made rapid progress with basketball. In his grade nine year, he made the first team. But he would have to make another difficult choice between basketball and athletics – where he had also found success.

“As a young kid in an all-boys school, you like to be admired for your achievements. I played first team (basketball) before any of my peers, and it felt good. That drove me and kept me going,” said Shine, who matriculated at Boys High. “I quit soccer but found myself torn between basketball and athletics. I was the high jump national champion but I was in love with basketball.

“Again, basketball and its culture called me. It is why I have gone all the way with the sport, and that’s the reason I am where I am now.”

Being brought down to earth at University Pretoria

While his present holds a lot of promise, Shine says while he enjoyed success at the high school level, the transition to university presented a different challenge. His first year at the University of Pretoria (UP) was a humbling experience, but he also grew as a player.

“I came to UP with a bit of a big head. Having been the man in high school, I quickly got humbled. I realised there were guys much older than me … Five, six, seven years older playing at varsity, and I had to adjust,” said Shine. “University on its own is hard … Initially, I thought I would come in the team and choose my number. I thought I would be number 13 again, but coach Lesiba (Malothane) brought me down to earth. I had to choose a number no one wanted which was 12, and I started off the bench because I was a rookie.

“What I did enjoy was, moving from the position of getting the ball at the low block, where you bump bodies and score, to needing to make free throws, making mid-range shots, playing defence and dribbling the ball up the floor.”

While he was honing his skillsets at UP, the process had its forgettable and memorable moments. Shine explained that his first University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournament for UP was a downhill experience from the first game.

“That was my worst USSA. We played against UJ (University of Johannesburg). We did not know what hit us. They (UJ) just whacked us. Later that night, we played against UCT (University of Cape Town), a game we should have won but didn’t,” said Shine. “We ended up playing in the classification games. We were at the tournament for five days, but we had little motivation because of how we had been performing on the first day.”

 

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Fortunately for Shine, his final year at UP saw him bow out with a degree of satisfaction. In the second year of the Varsity Cup, the institution from the capital city would make the final but fell to UJ.

“It was my first Varsity Cup and also my last year. That year was tough because we lost some players. The way the competition works is players need to have a certain amount of credits and be under 25 years to play,” said Shine. “So we lost one of our starters, Manelisi Mthiyane, but the blessing was other players who never got a look in had an opportunity. That was also my most successful run at UP because there was dependence on me and Ludwig (Gerdes).

“Nobody expected us to beat UJ and Wits in the group stages. Or to even qualify for the finals. That was massive. In my last year, to make the finals. It was beautiful.”

Winning with the Suns

Now to his present, Shine, who has campaigned in the Basketball National League (BNL) since 2016 and won his first title last year, could potentially win his second league title with the Tshwane Suns, who beat the Mpumalanga Rhino earn their place in Sunday’s final. 

This year’s title run is distinctive for Shine because he assumed the captaincy of the four-time league winners from the start of the season. He will, on Sunday, lead the defending champions to the final against the star-studded Cape Town Tigers.

Emmanuel Shine third picture
Emmanuel Shine believes his team has a good leadership core.

The former Egoli Magic player says leading the team was already in the works from last year. With long-serving captain Kagiso Ngoetjana taking a break from the game, he began to mentor Shine.

“It was already known last year. Chief kept telling us that he was stepping away from the game. Being friends already, he started giving me some responsibilities. So the transition was smooth. I never feel that I have to go out of my way to lead anybody because we are a team of leaders,” said Shine, who served as vice-captain of the franchise last year.

“My job is made super easy because of the seniors in the team. Our youngest player Holy (Mandungu), has a mind of a veteran. He knows how to approach the game. When the youngest player has that frame of mind leading the team becomes secondary.”

The unbeaten Suns will need all the players to be at their best against the Tigers, who are also undefeated. Shine feels their adversaries will be under pressure because of their achievements over the last two years.

“We have to give them their props because they are setting the standard for professionalism in South Africa. I have played with some their players. Guys like Lebesa (Selepe), Dylan (Whitbred) and Lebogang (Mofokeng) these are guys that train hard. They have coach Florsh (Ngwenya), one of the best coaches we have in the country,” said Shine.

“You don’t go into this game fearing your opponent. We must appreciate that we have earned the right to be here. I think it’s going to go down to inches, like fighting for that loose ball or that rebound.

“They are under a lot of pressure because of their accomplishments. They made back-to-back play-offs in the BAL (Basketball Africa League). We also have pressure because we are the defending champions and want to prove we deserve to be here.

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