Mthembu’s goal is to win championships

“Don’t let this pandemic stop you from paying that daily rent”

LONG time servant in the Basketball National League and one club man, Somusa Mthembu of Tshwane Suns discusses his basketball journey on The Big Tip Off.

Q: Where and when did your love for basketball develop?

A: My love for basketball developed back home in KwaZulu-Natal when I was still a young boy. I used to see certain tall guys walk past my house now and then, playing with a big ball using their hands. I was fascinated and wanted to be just like them. And from then on, the rest is history.

Q: As a young player, who played the biggest role in your development?

A: Two men by the names of Luthando (forgot his surname) and Seann Rubinek. Luthando taught me the basics and took me to my first provincial trials, which is where I met Seann, who taught me everything I know. I credit them for my development as a young player.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

A: I love to win, so I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen. At the same time, I’m a team player, so I’ll take a step back sometimes so my teammates can shine and we all feel like we contributed to a win.

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Somusa Mthembu wants to improve his handles and on court vision. Pictures: THE BTO

Q: What are the strong aspects of your game?

A: I’m athletic, agile, quick and I shoot pretty well.

Q: What aspects of your game do you feel you can improve on?

A: My handle and court vision.

Q: You have been a constant presence in the Basketball National League (BNL) and with one club, Tshwane Suns, what keeps you coming back?

A: They are the best team in the league.

Q: You are a three-time BNL champion. Which one the championships is your most memorable? And why?

A: The first one would be my most memorable because it was the third time I realised one of my dreams. I became a senior provincial player, professional player and a national champion in a space of two years.

Q: How did you feel when you received your first senior national team call-up? 

A: I was overjoyed. Especially because they called my name last. I was so nervous. I came back home and cried with excitement when I told my parents.

Q: What is your goal in basketball (with your team and individually)?

A: With my team, my goal is championships, always. Individually, I want to be simply the best.

Q: Who is the greatest player in South Africa? And Why?

A: I can’t answer that question because there were many players before my time that were great and I’ve only seen a few. To say that so and so is greatest wouldn’t be accurate. I will say, I want to be the greatest though!

Q: Who is your favourite player in basketball? And why? 

A: Kobe “Bean” Bryant. He is the reason I started watching basketball.

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

A: Dr. Fumani Marhanele. I was never composed when guarding him, because he was quicker, stronger and jumped just as high as I did, so I didn’t know how to stop him.

Q: What is your favourite basketball quote? And why?

A: “If you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready” … I had to learn that, the hard way. Shout-out to Neo “Miyagi” Mothiba for that lesson.

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

A: My first national team game. I was very nervous because I had been benched two games prior (rookie minutes they called it). I subbed in, travelled, showed my frustration and was subbed out. I’ll never forget that moment. I felt like the worst player in the world.

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Somusa Mthembu believes becoming a father has given him a different perspective of life.

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

A: I would either be a soccer player, athlete (sprints and triple jump) or an animator. I have a love for those professions as well.

Q: What kind of character is Somusa on the basketball court? 

A: High energy. Hype man. The loudest guy on the court. You will not be short of confidence when I’m around and I’ll put in maximum effort every time.

Q: Who has been the biggest influence in your life, off the basketball court? And why?

A: My twin brother. He gets me!

Q: What has been your greatest achievement off the basketball court? And why?

A: Having my beautiful daughter. It has put a lot of things into perspective.

Q: What are you doing to stay in shape during this time of COVID-19?

A: I’ve been using training programs that I’ve worked with over the years. They’ve helped me stay in shape during this lockdown, so I’m grateful for them.

Q:  What words of encouragement do you have during this time of COVID-19?

A: Take it seriously. Stay safe and protect each other. This too shall pass. There is nothing the human body can’t adapt to. It’s only a matter of time and until then let’s do the right things and keep in mind that our goals as individuals are still valid. So don’t let this pandemic stop you from paying that daily rent. Work on your craft!

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