Eric Kibi is a 23 year old 198cm forward from Ottawa, Canada that will play for BBC Rendsburg this season. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Jacksonville College (NJCAA) where he played until 2010. Then he moved to UALR (NCAA) where he played his junior season playing 29 games and averaging 4.4ppg, 4.2rpg. In the 2011-2012 season he was a senior and played for bil.Christian (NCAA2) playing 20 games and averaging 8.2ppg, 5.7rpg, FGP: 60.0%. In the 2012-2013 he turned professional and came to Germany and played for BG Halstenbek/Pinneberg (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 20 games and averaging 19.9ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3Pts: 20.0%, FT: 54.3%. Last season he played for the Ottawa SkyHawks (NBL Canada) playing 29 games and averaging 4.4ppg, 4.7rpg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Hi Eric, thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your summer?
Thanks for having me, at the moment I’m in the Toronto area training with my trainer Kyle Julius of A-Game hoops and playing in a lot of Pro Ams in the Toronto area with NBA guys and other Pros. As far as my summer it’s Been good, a little stressful finding a team but still got to enjoy my family time and a lot of traveling.
Two seasons ago as a rookie you played at BG Halstenbek/Pinneberg (Germany-Regionalliga) and last season seemed to make a step forward playing with the Ottawa SkyHawks (NBL Canada). You recently were signed again by a German team called BBC Rendsburg that moved up from Regio 2. What were the main reasons for going back to Germany?
Personally I dream of playing in some of the bigger leagues in Europe so I feel that being in Germany gives me the best chance of moving up through the ranks, while at the same time being right there in front of all the German and European coaches to watch me in person instead of on film. The NBL gives Canadians a great opportunity to play professionally at home against top talent but for me at this point in my career I felt that going back to Europe was the best for me. The NBL can always be an option down the road obviously.
How do you rate your decision? You played in German Regionaliga and in the NBL Canada. How would you compare the two leagues skill wise? I would imagine that the skill level is high in the Canadian league as there are many players from Europe and guys winding down their careers that have played at a high level.
I’m very happy with my decision. Me and my agent had a great relationship with coach Bjarne at Rendsburg and I think we all had the same vision for the team and for my career which is something I was really looking for. As far as skill level in my opinion I feel that for whatever reason the NBL Canada is very underrated. There is a lot of top level talent in the league, a lot of guys from the league have signed overseas in recent weeks so that shows that the league is making great progress. There is a lot of top level talent in Germany as well but the talent is more structured into a team concept.
You will be the go to guy in Rendsburg. Do you sense added pressure not only to help your team win games, but to match or better your stats from your rookie season at Pinneberg?
No not really, I don’t feel pressure at all. I feel that you only feel pressure when your not prepared for the task at hand which isn’t the case for me at all. I’ve had one of my best summers as far as training and taking care of my body since turning pro and I’m ready for the task at hand. I’ve put in a lot of hours into my craft this summer and it’s got me to a point where my confidence is soaring so I expect to perform even better than two years ago and lead my team to as many wins as possible and hopefully a promotion. I’m excited to prove that I can be a go to guy and impact the game with more than just scoring.
How was the whole experience playing in Canada with Ottawa? You played 29 games: 4.4ppg, 4.7rpg. There was a span of six games where you averaged 31 minutes a game. Why did you have such a whirlwind season?
The season was really up and Down for me, started off really slow then it picked up around late November when I finally got an opportunity to show what I could do, which is why I feel my stats don’t really speak for my season. However It was a difficult situation at the beginning of the season to be stuck on the bench because as a competitor you want to be able contribute and help your teammates, especially in my hometown but everything happens for a reason. When I got my chance during that six game span I took advantage of my opportunity and had some of the best games I’ve ever played in my career. Overall I feel that last years situation made me hungrier.
American Tirrel Baines who also plays your position was in the starting lineup in that six game phase. Was the competition in the long run very big that season?
Our practices were some of the most intense practices I’ve ever been a part of with Former and current BBL guys like Justin Tubbs, Ryan Anderson, Mike Rose just to name a few. Every guy was getting after it trying to prove themselves. Very physical and high intensity so every day you had to bring it, especially at my position because we had two or three other high level guys there. At the end of the day even with Tirrell we pushed each other but off the court those are all my big brothers until this day, I learned so much from those guys and I’ll forever be grateful for that.
As you came in November 2013 as did ex NBA player Jaren Jackson who became your head coach. How intense was this time learning from a former NBA champion?
For me personally coach Jackson was the best thing that could of happened for me. For whatever reason with the previous coach I wasn’t given a chance. Coach Jackson really brought that professionalism in a Coach Popovich kind of way to our team as far as preparation and mentality. As far as on the court as long as we defended he gave us freedom on offense to showcase our talents. The thing I’ll remember the most about what coach Jackson reiterated is the importance of seizing every opportunity because it may never come again, whether that is a rep in practice, a two minute span in a game or even a mental rep in the film room.
Jaren won NBA championships in the late 90s with the San Antonio Spurs. Did he have any Tim Duncan or Tony Parker stories where you could gain some inspiration in the hard working category?
He definitely had a daily Duncan, Parker or even David Robinson story, mostly regarding their work ethic and professionalism. He also had many stories about being matched up with Michael Jordan and actually showed us footage on the bus of him and Jordan going at it which was great to see. It really validates his credibility and makes you want to really learn from a coach like that because he’s played at the level where we all aspire to play at.
As a rookie you played in Germany for BG Halstenbek/Pinneberg (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 20 games: 19.9ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3Pts: 20.0%, FT: 54.3%. You were a rookie but played with many very young kids. What was your overall impression of the German players developing at the Regionaliga level?
I think the German system is really great for the young players in Germany. A lot of the guys are double license guys which means they get to play in a professional environment and also play against their own age group in the NBBL. In my opinion that opportunity is great for their development it’s a great structure.
Your teammate was big German talent Janis Stielow who is a German U-20 player and has made the next level and will play for the Hamburg Towers. What did you enjoy most about his game?
What I like about Janis is he was a no non sense guy even at a young age I really admired how he approached every game and every practice. He really wanted to get better every practice. He always asked me questions which was great. I am happy to see him doing so well he deserves it, I hope to be facing him in the near future.
You played at three schools before turning professional. Did you at times feel like a basketball nomad with all the traveling and moving from school to school? Do you think you might have benefited from seeing different styles and levels more than if you had played at one school?
For me personally my first two years at Jacksonville college were great. I got to play in one of the best junior college leagues in America and face High level division 1 talent every night. I was a double double guy both seasons And managed to be an all conference player both years, as well as being selected to the all American camp so I would say I held my own. This fed into my hunger for the next levels because at the junior college level you really have to work hard if you want to earn that division 1 scholarship so it’s definitely a grind. I had some great moments at the next level but ultimately I didn’t have as much success as I would of wanted to at the NCAA level but that’s not because I wasn’t given opportunities for some reason things didn’t always click but at the same time I had great coaches and teammates I was able to learn from. Also had the opportunity to play in the 2011 NCAA tournament in which was a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. My last two years were a bit difficult for me so for me to still be playing professionally is a blessing from God.
You played a year of NCAA ball with UALR (NCAA) playing 29 games: 4.4ppg, 4.2rpg. coming from Jacksonville College (NJCAA) to the NCAA must have been like day and night. What was your wake up call to being in the NCAA where you really noticed that you had reached the NBA of the college basketball world?
In all honesty Jacksonville got me well prepared for the skill level ,to me it was more the attention to details by the other teams that was day and night. Scouting reports were so sharp that your opponent knew every single tendency you had which was something that was difficult to adjust to. At the same time the limelight was very different, what I mean by that was now we were on TV every game and my parents were able to enjoy more of my games or even criticize
The scouting report on you is extensive as being super athletic position 3 player who has great face up game and can handle the ball in the perimeter to produce with his midrange game, using pull up shot, or strong drives to the basket. He has excellent inside back to the basket game, can use strength to back down players for his drop step move or hook shot consistently. In transition offence or fast breaks, possess great speed, quickness to score in open floor. Strong with the ball and drives to the basket can finish with contact and dunk. Great individual defender in the perimeter and also uses strength comfortably to defend bigger players inside. Has excellent nose for defensive and offensive rebounding, catches the ball on the highest point. Now having said so much what in your opinion is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
I think that I can handle the ball and shoot it a bit better than I’m given credit for. I think aggressiveness, rebounding and athleticism has always been a big part of my game so sometimes I don’t get to show the other aspects of my games as much as I’d like to. That is no ones fault either that’s on me to show those aspects of my game, which I plan on doing more of this upcoming season.
It seems like Canadian basketball continues to grow. More and more players are playing in the NCAA as well as coming to Europe. In the last two years there also has been an influx of Canadians coming to Germany to play. How have you seen the development of Candian basketball in the last 5 years? Do you think one day the whole Canadian national team could be filled with NBA players?
Over the past five years the rise of Canadian basketball has been crazy. I compare it kind of to the baby boomers, this is really the golden generation of Canadian basketball. A lot of guys like myself have benefited from the rise with the added exposure whether it is at the NCAA level or pro level. A lot of people will talk about the Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett or Tristan Thompson, but I feel there is more to that in Canadian basketball. A lot of guys are making a lot of noise in Europe particularly in Germany like you mentioned as well as in our Canadian basketball league so the growth of basketball in our country has been tremendous. Hopefully this will lead to a successful national team full of NBA players and successful overseas guys in the near future.
How does a normal summer work out day look like for Eric KIbi in the summer of 2014?
Ill wake up around 7 eat a good breakfast then make my way to the gym for a first workout at 8 which will be a lot of individual stuff, ball handling, shooting, conditioning. I’ll grab lunch then Come back around 2 to get a lift in the weight room and swim at the pool. Then In the evening depending on the day either play some pick up or return for the second basketball workout in which is always a little more intense.
You played in Pinneberg as a rookie and will play in Rendsburg this season. Both locations aren´t far away from Hamburg. Where do enjoy going the most in Hamburg? Let me guess the Reeperbahn?
Yes, I really like the Reeperbahn for sure it is such a diverse place there’s so much to do there. I love Doner, so the Reeperbahn is for sure where I found the best one. Also in Hamburg I went to a few German Bundesliga soccer matches of Hamburg SV so I look forward to doing that once again.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Well actually I’m watching a lot of netflix in my downtime so right now I’m addicted to a show called Suits.
Thanks Eric for the chat.