Eric Kibi is a 26 year old 198cm forward from Ontario, Canada that recently completed his fifth professional season and first with the Randers Cimbria Basketball (Denmark-Ligaen) playing 31 games averaging 10.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 27.8%, FT: 70.2%. In the 2015-2016 season he played with the Hertener Loewen Basketball (Germany-ProB) playing 3 games averaging 4.7ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.3apg, 1.3spg, left in Oct.’15, in Jan.’16 moved to KK Strsljen Gusinje (Montenegro-Erste Liga): 4 games: 3.8ppg, 5.5rpg, in Mar.’16 signed at London Lightning (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 23 games averaging 1.7ppg, 2.5rpg. Two seasons ago he completed his second season in Germany and first with Basketball Club Rendsburg (Germany-Regionalliga) averaging 20,5ppg and 15,0rpg. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Jacksonville College (NJCAA) where he played until 2010. He then played a season with UALR (NCAA) playing 29 games: 4.4ppg, 4.2rpg. He finished his college career in 2012 with Abil.Christian (NCAA2) playing 20 games: 8.2ppg, 5.7rpg, FGP: 60.0%. In 2012 he started his professional basketball career with Abil.Christian (NCAA2) playing 20 games: 8.2ppg, 5.7rpg, FGP: 60.0% He then played with Ottawa SkyHawks (NBL Canada): 29 games: 4.4ppg, 4.7rpg. He spoke to German Hoops about last season in Denmark and his new experience with the Congolese national team.
Eric thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Hey Miles thanks for the interview like always. I’ve had a great summer and was able to travel Europe a bit after the season then I got to see my family in Canada for two months then in early July I flew out to Congo for the Congolese National Team training camp and I’ve been here ever since.
This is our eighth interview in the last two years. When you look back to our first interview in the summer of 2015 before your season in Germany with Herten do you feel like time has really flown by as you have experienced very much playing also in Luxembourg, Montenegro, Canada, and Denmark?
Yes I can say time has really flown by, but I can say I feel much better now physically and mentally then I did then.
We last spoke in March 2017 as you were battling to get into the playoffs. Your team Randers did reach the playoffs, but got swept by Horsens. They had your number in the regular season having a 6-2 record. Was Horsens just a better team in most areas on the floor that enabled them to have a 9-2 record against you last season?
You could say they had our number yes but I felt that individually and talent wise we matched up with them very well but it’s not always about that. They were a better team than us and played that way definitely.
Randers gave up to near 100 points per game in the playoffs series against Horsens. Why was the Randers defense unable to come through and play better?
They moved the ball very well and our rotations weren’t quick enough. Game 3 we played our best game of the season defensively and I think we held them to 98 points and still lost by 1.
You stated in our last interview that you gained intensity and competitiveness having played together with veterans Charles Burgess, Bonell Colas and Sean Carter. Is the competitiveness level at a rate now that your happy with?
Yes definitely practices were intense as well as their competitive level in games I learned a lot from those veterans.
You stated in our last interview that you haven´t quite reached your prime yet and always try to add something to your game each summer. What do you feel have you added to your game this summer that you didn´t have before?
I need to keep improving my outside shot which I feel I’ve done every year. I took another step in the right direction this season.
You also stated in our last interview that you not only want to reach the highest level anywhere, but especially in Germany with the BBL as you have played there the most. What is still missing in your game to convince BBL GM´s that your worthy of playing in that competitive league?
I would say it’s my outside shooting. I feel like my versatility, athleticism and physicality already translates now it’s just about opportunity and proving I’m worthy not just BBL but other high level leagues in Europe.
Teams are almost filled in Germany. How has the team search come along this summer? With a solid season in Denmark have you been content with the interest? Your still unsigned. How is the search coming along?
The search has been decent I’ve had some interest in a few interesting countries but I’m still waiting for the right situation, this is an important season for me. I trust that God is going to open the right door for me so I’m not even worried I’m focused on doing something special with my National team at the AfroBasket and if we do that everything will fall right into place.
Currently you are with the Congolese national team preparing for the 2017 African Championships. Talk about how this opportunity came about? Could you have also been a candidate for the Canadian national team?
The team manager reached out to me during my season about the opportunity and once we sorted out the details we started the process. Even though I was born in Canada since both of my parents were born in Congo I was able to obtain a Congolese Sport visa and switch the Sporting Nationality with the permission of Canada basketball While obviously retaining my Canadian passport.
Are the chances for minutes and getting a sufficient role simply better with the Congo team than if you were with the Canadian team?
For sure, There is a lot of hidden talent in Congo but obviously the competition is fierce with the Canadian team. This is the golden generation and there is a lot of talent coming up and in the NBA already. With that being said I’ve never been part of anything with Canada basketball anyways but even if I had the choice between both I would still pick Congo. I love Canada and it’s home and always will be but my roots are Congolese, I bleed with Congo and always have, I’ve always felt more Congolese than Canadian so for me it’s a dream come true to represent my family and the other 82 million people who will be rooting for us on a word stage.
How has the preparation been coming along? You recently beat BC Mazembe 67-41. What kind of role have you received?
The preparation has been great, we are two weeks into training camp so it was nice to finally play against someone else. I came into camp very aggressive and will continue to do so, it earned me a starting spot in the first game which doesn’t mean anything but any role is fine with me I can start or come off the bench either way I’m going to be a pit bull when I get out there whether it’s for 35 minutes or 10 minutes.
How important is this opportunity to play with the Congolese national team and how do you see your game profiting from this competitive play your experiencing this summer?
It’s a huge opportunity in my career and personal life because first of all it allowed me to come to Congo for the first time. Second, it allows me to have a great summer of preparation in training camp day in and day out against other European pros and NBA players topped off with AfroBasket in Tunisia competition which will also feature many NBA players and High level European players. Not only will my game and my career benefit from this opportunity but I will also join my Pro team game ready in mid-September.
Is this a set team or are their possibilities of being cut? How confident are you that you will be one of the 12 players at the end?
Were down to 17 from the 20 guys, 12 will go to Tunisia. Obviously anything is possible but god-willing I will be in that final 12. What I am very confident about is that I haven’t been out worked this summer and that alone gives me the confidence that I deserve to be in that 12.
You are still waiting for the clearance of NBA players Bismack Biyombo and Emmanuel Mudiay. How big is the quality of the team when they were to be able to join the team?
Obviously the quality will rise we’re talking about an elite rim protector and a very impressive NBA point guard in Biz and Emmanuel respectively. I Really hope clearance comes through because they’ve both told us how much they want help us.
Would this personally be like a dream being able to play together with them or will they just be another teammate for you?
They are my Congolese brothers I’m happy with their NBA success and how well they represent our country but once that ball goes up there’s no dream come true or whatever we’re all the same and all striving for the same goal. I’m sure they would tell you the same thing.
I have to ask you briefly about your short stay in Herten. You played only three games, but in the game against the Artland Dragons you saw two interesting things. One was seeing teammate Deandre Lansdowne scoring 40 points. He signed with German BBL team Braunschweig. Does his play inspire you to keep grinding to get better or is your game at a point now where you could play in the BBL?
Me and Dee were high school teammates as well and he’s a good friend of mine. I’m happy with his success he’s one of the hardest workers I know. He’s improved every year I’ve known him since we were 15 or 16 so 11, 12 years later I’m not surprised he’s earned it. Then again I don’t compare my career to others everyone has their own path I have already enough motivation.
In that game against Artland you saw Isaiah Hartenstein score 6 points as a young buck. He was recently drafted by the Houston Rockets in the second round. What do you remember from his game and would you have thought he had the potential to get drafted in the NBA?
I definitely thought even back then that he would be an NBA player because of his size, fluid mobility and athleticism. He also has a nice shooting stroke which is what todays NBA is all about with Power Forwards.
In your third professional season your were teammates with German Bjoern Rohwer who put up strong stats there averaging 15 and 6. He has worked hard the last few years in the ratiopharm Ulm organization playing in the Pro B and made his debut in the BBL last year. What memories do you have of him and what was it like battling him in practice even if you had different positions?
I made sure to guard B every practice and I remember at first he didn’t like the physicality but as the season went on he kept getting better and more physical. He always had potential but now it was about getting some dog in him and once he got that he became unstoppable. I’m happy with his success.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I describe it as loaded. The sleepers I see are Dennis Smith Jr , Kyle Kuzma from the Lakers and my Canadian guy Dillon Brooks who slid to the second round to Memphis somehow, he will thrive there.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
Not even close, they are missing Jesus. No one beating the Warriors for the next 5 years and that’s coming from a huge Lebron fan.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Eric for the chat.