Thabeet says height is not an advantage
Tanzania`s first ever basketball export who features for Memphis Grizzlers of United States says height alone is not the advantage to excel in the game.
The 22-year-old was responding to an interview with the East African Television, EATV, conducted at a packed Mlimani City auditorium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday evening.
Thabeet said there are many tall guys in the United States and elsewhere in the country, but they don’t bother to play basketball and end up in other undesirable casual labours.
For one to excel in basketball, one must be determined and practise the game while following instructions from the coaches, so says Thabeet.
He said his penetration into the NBA ranks was backed by sheer determination as he endured torrid moments to meet the satisfaction of coaches enroute to his stardom.
He ruled out those tall guys playing basketball who think they can achieve milestone courtesy of their heights should they not listen to coaches’ instructions as well as attend practice sessions.
Thabeet was of the opinion that the Tanzania Basketball Federation, TBF, should embark on construction of courts as well as categorizing the leagues according to ages.
At the moment there is no categorization as whoever is capable to play the game joins the fray regardless of ages.
He wondered why the TBF is not serious on the programme of the basketball calendar and events. He was shocked to hear that the basketball league for Dar es Salaam or popularly known as the RBA Kili did not take off on the scheduled date of August 22.
“Soon on my arrival I was told the league would start on August 22, but now we are heading to September and nothing is going on. Nobody takes care!” exclaimed Thabeet.
The basketball idol said TBF should team up with the ministry in the project of courts construction across the country if the game is to improve.
He noted that the number of players wishing to play basketball outweigh the available courts with few who gain access to the game’s premier league berth.
However, he thanked President Jakaya Kiwete for his encouragement whenever he travelled to the United States.
“I have been highly honoured by the President who spared time with me to discuss serious issues on basketball and my career development as well,” he noted.
He said the ministry responsible should treat basketball as one of the most important games the way soccer is being treated for the game to produce more exports.
“The President is serious on basketball development since he played the game and has strong devotion to it, but there is a missing link between the parent ministry and the federation officials,” he said.
Thabeet believes Tanzania can make a successful breakthrough if the missing link between the ministry and basketball federation is ironed out.
School basketball promotion is another aspect Thabeet emphasized to be worked out. He thanked Henry Mwinuka, a basketball coach now based at Kampala International University, for scouting him in Dar es Salaam and introduced basketball elementary lessons.
The towering Thabeet was latter spotted by Nairobi based Razor Hill school coaches during the East African basketball tournament held in Mombasa in early 2003.
He also remembers his colleagues who shared street talks at Sinza, a suburb in Dar es Salaam, late in the nights. However, he was highly disappointed to find that most of them take him as an arrogant person simply because he speaks English in American tone.
“Thabeet anatema yai bwana,” meaning Thabeet spits eggs or has gone great heights to forget them as if they never grew up together.
Basketball fans and players turned up in huge numbers at a packed Mlimani City auditorium. Fans mobbed the basketball star as they presented their autographs for him to sign as a gesture of their devotion to applaud his remarkable success.