Mangondo learns to adult during lockdown

Multi-faceted on and off the court

WITS University student and player Nicole Mangondo talks to The Big Tip Off about basketball and how she has been keep playing busy during the lockdown.

BTO: When did you develop your love for basketball?

NM: I began playing in Grade 8, but my love for basketball truly began in my Matric year, 2012.

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

NM: There have been so many role players. It is difficult to pinpoint one individual and to say they were solely responsible for my growth. In short, all my coaches, teammates, officials and competition helped me along the way.

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Nicole Mangondo of Wits (15) believes it’s hard to cheat basketball. Pictures: THE BTO

BTO: What are the strong aspects of your game?

NM: I am a versatile player. Basketball is constantly changing, so I have to adapt to that. In one game, I might be hot on defence and the next in the game, play a supportive role (setting screens and not score at all). I would say the strong aspect of my game, is being versatile. I am willing and able to lead and contribute in numerous ways to the team. You just never know what you will get but you will get something from me.

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

NM: ALL OF THEM! If you are not constantly working on your game, it will show. You cannot hide from any of your shortcomings in basketball. 

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball match? Can you explain what it was like?

NM: No! Honestly speaking when I was in high school, I was still learning the game, going through the motions and playing just for fun. 

BTO: Who is the toughest opponent you have faced in basketball? And why?

NM: Jesu! We have a fair amount of competitive and talented players in South Africa. I’d rather break it down into teams. In high school, it was Rosina Sedibane. At the varsity level, it’s Wits and VUT. At club level, it’s Phoenix. They have players who know how to win. 

BTO: Who in your opinion is the best player in South African basketball?

NM: OMG! There are too many to mention.

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

NM: Fortunate Bosega. She’s dangerous in every way. She can drive to finish. She plays hard defence. She crashes boards. She never gets tired and even if she does, she won’t show it. Even on her worst day, she’ll never give you an excuse. She plays through injuries; she is incredibly disciplined and trains hard. No other player carries herself the way she does. 

BTO: Who is your favourite teammate in basketball? And why?

NM: Sharon Tolo, Rudo Kaseke, Kage Phiri and Lungi. They are honest teammates, but they also believe in me. 

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

NM: The USSA 2018 and USSA 2019 quarter-finals. My team, Wits took on NW-Vaal and sh** just didn’t work out, on both occasions. I think we underestimated them because during the regular season we beat them. However, come crunch time, we just caught L’s.  

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

NM: All of coach Mandla Ngema’s practices. They are always mental-emotional-physical sessions that you holistically benefit from. That man is beyond great!

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

NM: For the first time in my adult life I have not been free. I have been working, working on various things: school, work, business ventures and cooking. I’ve been busy!

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Nicole Mangondo believes there’s always room for players to improve their game.

BTO: What have you missed about being away from the basketball court?

NM: I have the privilege of having access to courts, so I use them. However, I do miss matches and training with my actual full team.

BTO: What are you looking forward to when basketball eventually resumes?

NM: Seeing who has put in work to develop and enhance their skills during this year. 

BTO: Do you remember your first basketball sneakers?

NM: Yes, they were white and pink from the Missy Elliot Adidas Basketball collection, I thought they were the coolest thing to hit the court. 

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

NM: Next… 

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

NM: Finally launching the Hoop Development Academy, a Pan-African initiative or being a sports agent. Whichever comes first. 

BTO: Who is Nicole off the basketball court?

NM: I guess one would have to take the time to get to know me because I am very multi-faceted.

BTO: What is your favourite sport or life quote:

NM: Life is a rollercoaster. It is meant to be a fully elating experience of highs and lows.

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

NM: Mama. Her voice is always in my head. 

BTO: How would like to be remembered when you are done playing basketball?

NM: A strong player, good teammate and cheerleader of others as they shine.


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