Reece ‘The Beast’ ready to re-establish himself

FOR a couple of months, Reece ‘The Beast’ Prinsloo believed injury had brought a sad end to his magnificent playing career.

At the end of October last year, the decorated forward posted a heartfelt goodbye message to basketball on social media. He was thankful for the memories the game had given him. He also paid homage to the coaches who had afforded him the chance to shine at national team and varsity level.

This was the end, so he thought. It seemed the decision for Prinsloo, who initially retired due to a vertebrae injury, was premature.

The Egoli Magic player and four-time Basketball National League (BNL) champion, speaking via  Zoom a week ago, said making the call to end his career was based on his emotional state.

“I think I will be playing this year. I went for a second opinion and will be back in the game soon,” said Prinsloo who explained the nature of the injury. “During a (BNL match) against the Tshwane Suns, I landed awkwardly, and my discs were out of place. It was a tough time having to announce my retirement, but now with hindsight, I realise it was a premature and emotional decision.”

Third Pic
Reece Prinsloo with teammates Risto Pasipamire and Bandile Nsele. Pics: The BTO

Following careful reflection and a positive discussion with his wife-to-be, the Gqeberha-born Prinsloo is raring to get back on the court.

“I now have a different view of things. After putting aside all the emotions, I realised: ‘hey, you are 30-years-old. There are guys who are the same age and are at their peak. Some guys are older and in their decline. They all have one thing in common. They are still playing the game’. So it was premature of me to post that message (on social media about my retirement),” said the former Grey PE pupil. “My fiancée also still wants to see me play. She told me she had never seen me play. Once I started getting better, I wanted to start running again. I feel like my old self. It’s just about getting back on the court and getting that first rebound.”

When discussing the injury affected him, Prinsloo, a former South African youth international, felt the opportunity to end things on his terms had escaped.

“A lot of things went through my mind. I knew the time would come when I had to retire from the game, but not like this. Getting the news from the doctor, I cried and asked: why Lord, why? Why now? I still have a lot to give as a player. There were just a lot of questions,” said Prinsloo, a three-time University Sport South Africa (USSA) champion with the Vaal University of Technology.

With Prinsloo set to hit the court, his first port of call is a possible return to Mozambique, where he will have the opportunity to reunite with Ferroviario de Nacala.

“I might go to Mozambique either at the end of February or the beginning of March. They called me to find out if I would be available to play in the Mozambique league. There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Prinsloo, who described his experience when he first played in the Southern African country.

“They have a physical approach to the game, but there is also something different about Mozambican basketball. It’s the fans! The fans love basketball, and they love their teams to bits. It’s beautiful to witness.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Reece 08 (@reece_prinsloo)

The former Soweto Panthers player looks forward to his potential return to Mozambique, where the game is of a high standard. While Prinsloo is eager to put his body on the line against the best players, he notes there will be butterflies in his first game.

“There are a lot of nerves and excitement as well. There is pressure because playing in Mozambique would mean I am re-establishing myself. Also, in South Africa in the JBL, I want to do the same when I play for my team, MBB,” said Prinsloo.

On the South African game, Prinsloo feels the state of basketball is lamentable. It is well-documented that South African basketball administrators have, for the most part, treated players poorly, especially the BNL.

Prinsloo, who won three straight league titles with the Egoli Magic acknowledged the league preys on the desperation of players. The league has also never taken kindly to criticism.

“What has been said before (about the league) is true. I also stand by those players who have spoken out in the past. The league has lost a lot of great quality players. Probably the best players in the country,” said Prinsloo, whose love for the game has seen him remain in the BNL. “I would say I’m still playing because of passion. That is why I am still playing in the league. It’s the passion that’s kept me playing in the BNL. The quotes and statements made in the past (about the BNL) are not off the mark. The situation is probably the same today, where some players are still misled in signing of their contracts.”

Prinsloo also added: “The league was also happy to put poor quality players on TV, just for the sake of having an operational league.”

According to Prinsloo, a solution would be for players to show a more united front and be more knowledgeable concerning matters of this nature.

“There is only one answer for that, education! Getting educated about this kind of (contractual) issue is imperative. I know it’s hard to access education on the business side of basketball. There are problems like funding and players coming from hard circumstances,” said Prinsloo, who has played in the BNL since 2013.

Third Pic
Egoli Magic’s Reece Prinsloo standing at the free throw line with Neo Mothiba of Jozi Nuggets.

Focusing on his career so far, Prinsloo is one of the most accomplished players in the BNL. His resume is laden with winner medals from his time with the Panthers to his current team Egoli. 

“Winning the title with Panthers was great and I was content. Then I joined Egoli in 2019 and we went on to win four championship runs… it was spectacular! It just rolls nicely off the tongue,” said Prinsloo, who holds the distinct privilege of being the first player to notch a triple-double in the BNL.

Prinsloo has had the honour of representing South Africa at the highest level. Some of his best moments in the national team involved being mentored by senior player, Lindokuhle Sibankulu. “Getting to rub shoulders with Lindo Sibankulu from KZN, was one of my best moments. He was my personal mentor when I came to the national team as rookie,” said Prinsloo.

Reflecting on his best game in the green and gold, Prinsloo spoke fondly of the 2015 season of the All Africa Games qualifiers in Zimbabwe.  “My best game was against Zimbabwe where I scored 17 points and 15 rebounds. We lost that game and the opportunity to qualify. I think it was also the first time I ever cried in a game.”

The game has brought a lot of joy and tears for Prinsloo. After briefly experiencing what it feels like to have basketball taken away from him, he now has a second chance. There will be questions about his health and only his mind and body will provide the answers. Only time can tell if he will be able to end things on his own terms.

Reece ‘The Beast’ ready to re-establish himself Read More »