Sibanyoni: I will always love and appreciate my teammates

Basketball went from unusual to an awesome experience for Sibanyoni

NKOSINATHI Sibanyoni of the Jozi Nuggets and former Mpumalanga Rhinos player opens up to  The Big Tip Off  about his experience in the Basketball National League (BNL) with the Rhinos and what his future plans are.

BTO: When did you develop your love for basketball?

NS: 2012.

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

NS: Tim Duncan.

BTO: What are the strong aspects of your games?

NS: Rebounding and scoring.

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

NS: Dribbling and shooting.

BTO: Do you remember the first time you played in a basketball match? Can you describe it?

NS: It was unusual, because I was not sure what I was doing and not fully aware of the rules. But it was awesome!

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

Jozi Nuggets player Nathi Sibanyoni
Jozi Nuggets player Nkosinathi Sibanyoni has aspirations to play for South Africa’s national team. PICTURE: THE BTO

NS: Neo Mothiba. He has been around for a long time. I have played alongside him and in my opinion, he works harder than half the players in the country. 

BTO: What has been the biggest achievement of your basketball career so far? And why?

NS: Playing live on TV and playing for the best team in the country, Jozi Nuggets. Playing with guys that I used to watch play before I got to their playing level is a joy.

BTO: Your Mpumalanga Rhinos teammates staged a walkout after you were not allowed to play in the semi-final against the Soweto Panthers in last year’s Basketball National League (BNL) season. Can you explain what happened?

NS: It all began when Rhinos team manager Edwin Mononyane delayed in handing me a clearance letter, which would have allowed me to compete for the Jozi Nuggets in the Basketball Africa League qualifiers. Since I did not get the clearance letter, I thought I could resume playing for the Rhinos. On the day of the semi-finals, Mononyane claimed that he had issued my clearance letter and I had been de-registered from the league. My teammates got knowledge of what was going on and decided that if I was not allowed to play, they would also not play. Surprisingly, it started with the team coach, Tutu Gama and everyone else followed his lead.

BTO: How did you feel when your teammates stood with you and decided not to play in that semi-final?

NS: Somehow, I felt like I cost everyone an opportunity of potentially playing and winning a championship. Then I realised my team was willing to take a bullet for me, which confirmed that our brotherhood was strong. 

BTO: Do you still want to play in the BNL and will you still be a Rhinos player?

NS:Yes, but only  if it’s a good offer. And certainly not with the Rhinos. Not after my experience with the team manager, last year! 

BTO: Do you have a message for your Rhinos teammates for standing with you?

NS: I appreciate what they did for me. I don’t think I will forget that. I will always love and appreciate them.

BTO: You played in the JBL final against the Phoenix Flames. What do you think went wrong for the Jozi Nuggets in that game?

NS:  I think we didn’t show enough hunger. We didn’t play our game. Maybe it was because of pressure or competition.

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball sneakers?

NS: And1 sneakers.

BTO: Which sneakers are you currently rocking?

NS: Under Armour.

BTO: What would you be doing if you were not a basketball player?

NS: Probably playing soccer. Pursuing my dream of being a lawyer or businessman.

Nkosinathi Sibanyoni
Nkosinathi Sibanyoni wants to suit up for different BNL franchise

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

NS: Russell Westbrook. The energy he has. His hunger. You can tell that this guy has zero limits.

BTO: What are you hoping to achieve in the future as a basketball player and or in an alternative career?

NS: Playing for the national team. Owning a business that will help communities and assist the youth in reaching their goals.

BTO: What is your favourite sport or general quote?

NS: “I am the same person with or without my friends. 10 toes down I need no crowd.”

BTO: Who is the biggest influence in your life outside of basketball?

NS: My mom.

BTO: What are your hobbies?

NS: Reading and drawing.

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

NS: No one promised us happiness forever. Life has challenged us all and especially during this time of Covid-19. Facing the worst doesn’t mean the end, it means we have to be strong and work together. Faith over fear!



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