Gumede: I love rugby more than basketball…

Gumede inching his way to the mountain top

EGOLI Magic and Jozi Nuggets player Kwazi Gumede talks to The Big Tip Off about his basketball journey, why he chose to play it over rugby, and what he misses about basketball during the lockdown.

BTO: When did you develop your love for basketball?

KG: I developed my love for basketball when I was in Grade 8. At my high school (Jeppe Boys), we were required to play a sport every term and basketball is the only sport that made sense to me because it had a vibe.

BTO: Who were the role players in your development in basketball?

KG: Honestly, at the time when I was coming up, there wasn’t anybody to mentor me. So, I watched senior players at my high school, like Alessandro Cocomello and Bradley (now at Wits) and modelled my game around theirs.

BTO: How would you describe your style of play?

KG: I read the game well and I have a good IQ.

BTO: What are the strong aspects of your game?

KG: I am a good passer of the ball. I pass the ball in ways other players don’t expect. And I can shoot the ball.

BTO: What aspects of your game do you think need improvement?

KG: I think I need to be more aggressive and drive in more often.

BTO: Do you remember the first time you played a basketball match? Can you explain that experience?

KG: Yeah, I remember it very well. We had so much fun. At the time Jeppe’s three under-14 teams were full and I didn’t make any of those teams. So they had to make a D-team for us so that we could play. I had fun but the amount of walks and double dribbles LOL!

Main Picture
Kwazi Gumede believes his game matured last year. Pictures: THE BTO

BTO: How would you rate your BNL season last year in terms of individual performance?

KG: Honestly speaking, offensively it was bad, but defensively I had a good season. I think my game matured. I didn’t just chuck the ball at the hoop. I took good shots. Yeah, it was a season where I matured as a player.

BTO: You won the BNL championship with Egoli Magic. How was that experience for your team and yourself as an individual?

KG: The experience was amazing. I mean we had a good team, good coaching staff, and mostly we played with heart. The final against Soweto Panthers was a tight one, but we wanted it more and we played for each other.

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

KG: That’s a tough one but I’ll say it’s Mduduzi Mkhonto. He is a bad, bad man.

BTO: What do you miss about being away from the basketball court? And why?

KG: Right now I miss practice, playing the game, and seeing my boy Emmanuel Bukweya cheering me on from the sidelines. I also miss listening to Neo Mothiba, Mlungisi Shongwe, Mdu Mkhonto and Lebesa Selepe speaking the Jozi Nuggets slang. I miss coach Florsh Ngwenya not shouting at me because I missed a shot, instead motivating me, and coach Andile Hlophe saying “Hallo vuka bra”.

BTO: Who is your favourite basketball player? And why?

KG: Russel Westbrook. Because he Rocks, baby!

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball kicks? 

KG: My first basketball kicks were And1’s.

BTO: Which basketball sneaker are you currently rocking? And why?

KG: Jordan’s. I just think they’re comfortable.

BTO: What was your lowest moment in basketball? And why?

KG: My lowest moment, has to be this year at the Johannesburg Basketball League (JBL) final against Phoenix. I’ve never felt like that, I got zero minutes and I felt helpless and useless as a player.

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

KG: I can see myself playing in the Basketball Africa League (BAL). It will take a lot of dedication and time.

BTO: What is your favourite quote?

Third Picture
While his offence has suffered Gumede feels there has been an improvement in his defence.

KG: “The wolf at the top of the mountain is not as hungry as the one climbing the mountain.”

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

KG: I jog. Luckily, I’m in a rural area, where there’s a court, so, I can train.

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

KG: I would be playing rugby. I love rugby more than basketball. I just happened to be a better basketball player than a rugby player.

BTO: What are your hobbies?

KG: Hanging with friends, PlayStation, touch rugby, and going out.

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

KG: Emmanuel Bukweya. He has been there for me through thick and thin. He’s young but he is an old soul and he is WOKE.

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

KG: Please follow the regulations. Covid-19 is real. Stay indoors if possible, and if you do go out, wear your masks and sanitise as much as possible.



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