Mike Nwabuzor is a 188cm guard from Lakewood, California that completed his second professional season in Germany for Regionalliga team BG Dorsten playing 3 games averaging 21.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 6.0apg, 3.3spg As a rookie for BG Dorsten he put up massive stats averaging 22,2ppg, 8,2rpg, 5,6apg and 2,5spg. He scored 20 points or more 19 times and had an incredible 43 points against Hagen-Haspe. He also produced a triple double against Dortmund with 27 points, 12 boards and 10 assists as a rookie. He played at three schools with Central.Arizona JC (JUCO)UTRGV (NCAA) and finished at N.Mexico Highlands (NCAA2) playing 28 games averaging 12.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 80.3%. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the COVID-19.
Hi Mike where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
Hello I am at home in Los Angeles, the current mood hasn’t affected me too badly because I have still been able to stay in shape and shoot on a basketball court.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
Honestly when I first heard about it, I was in Germany and I thought nothing of it. As it began to spread to different countries, I realized that it was a bigger deal than my original thought, I never imagined that it would be pandemic that would put everything to a complete stop.
How did you experience the day to day life in Germany during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
As soon as the virus began to spread and put all sports to a halt, I left Germany so I wasn’t able to experience the day to day lifestyle of the virus effecting the country.
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing
Yes, this outbreak has caused me to take more precaution from what I have already been doing and it will only be daps and elbow taps from now on. I will for sure keep my distance and stay out of the way if I see anyone coughing or having abnormal symptoms.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to finish the season?
Personally, for me I was disappointed because I only played in three games and wanted to finish out the season strong with my team in our last game of the season. Also, the game that was cancelled on the week of the outbreak was my birthday and I wanted to play on birthday.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. What is your overall opinion of playing a game without fans?
Fans are what get us going as players and it would be very difficult to play without them. They give us energy and they are almost like an eleventh man. On the other side we are getting paid to play the game, and if it has to be with no fans then so be it.
What have you learned about these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
I’ve learned how disciplined I really am when it comes to certain things. I also realized how grateful I am to just be healthy and to be able to still do the things that I love.
Will it be a big adjustment having to start 3 months earlier with workouts and basketball skill development? What will be the advantages and disadvantages of this?
Basketball is usually year-round for me so it won’t be a big adjustment to start earlier. If I’m not in season then I am always working on adding something to my game or tightening a skill. The only disadvantage would be that I wouldn’t have as much time to add what I had planned to add, to my game.
The whole world economy is going to be affected including Polish basketball. How worried are you about the future of professional basketball. The next season will have many changes. How are you handling this mentally now not knowing what to expect?
The only thing I can do is control what I can control. I will show up in my best shape and have a very polished game. I am worried though because I already assumed that there will be many drastic changes. Market will be different; less imports will be allowed and many teams will fold. I am just going to get into the best situation for myself and make the best out of it. This hit to professional basketball will not last forever, we just have to weather the storm right now.
How have you experienced the day to day life back home in the States? How has the Coronavirus affected your daily life? How have you been keeping in shape inside your home. Talk about the type of exercises and work out you have been able to perform inside your own 4 walls.
Day to day life has been going well. I am a person that is always on the go and likes to keep busy so that is one of the tough parts. Just not being able to do everything I want to do on a daily basis. I have been keeping in great shape though. My trainer, Ced Middleton, holds workouts on Zoom every other day and I just mimic these workouts on a daily basis. I also have a basketball court on my driveway so it helps me to be able to keep my jumper sharp and to continue to add new things to my game. You can look at this pandemic in a negative or positive way. If you look at it in a positive way, you see that it is opening you up to things that you’ve never done before or haven’t done in a while. For me, I haven’t used the court on my driveway in almost a decade because I’ve always had access to multiple gyms. Now, I use it every day and it reminds me how and why I fell in love with the game. Sort of like a nostalgic feeling.
You came late back to BG Dorsten in January 2020. Despite a very good rookie season with BG Dorsten, did you expect a different 2019 summer signing process? Why did it take so long for you find a new team?
I definitely expected to be signing to a higher-level team after my rookie season with BG Dorsten. Things couldn’t have gone any better for me as a rookie and I was very excited to get the summer process started. I had my best summer up to date of working out and adding things to my game so I was ready to showcase it on a bigger stage. A couple Pro B teams inquired about me but never followed up. I had some complications with my agency at the time and they folded right before the season was getting ready to begin in August. That was the worst possible thing that could happen to me because I had no agent and no team and guys were already reporting to their clubs during this period of time. This put me in the situation of having to wait until that December break and hope that I would get picked up because the worst possible thing you can do in this profession is take a whole season off. Luckily, BG Dorsten made something happen for me and I will always be grateful for them.
How tough was the fall not having a team? What did you learn from this that you will do better this summer? Possibly resign with BG Dorsten in order to come back and have another strong season and then go from there? I’m sure that you don’t want to experience another long period of possibly not having a team.
It was very tough because every conversation I ever had with anybody during the time period was ,’What’s your next move?’. Not having an answer for that question gets old over time. It did help me look in the mirror and understand that this thing isn’t sweet. Everybody’s journey is different and you really have to be a dog to keep going through the adversity that comes with this profession. I also learned that I have to be my own best marketer, and I can’t rely solely on one thing or person to get it done for me.
You came back to Dorsten in January 2020 to a team that was struggling and had lost 6 of 7 games. Did you feel a little pressure having that feeling of having to be that savior?
I didn’t feel much pressure because the club and Coach Franjo told me from the jump that they didn’t expect me to turn the whole season around or turn these games into wins. They just wanted the spirit of the club brought back and to give the fans something to cheer about and be excited about. Bring the excitement back that we had in the previous season. I feel that I did change the energy of the team and stirred up some momentum for the club going into next season.
You came back with a huge game having 31/6/4/5 stats but lost the game to Herten and on the next weekend lost to Recklinghausen. How tough was it playing well, but the team losing?
The toughest thing to do as a player is have a great game and your team lose. You can’t focus on what you did because it really doesn’t even matter. For me, I was happy that I was able to play well my very first game back and show that I had made many improvements to my game, but I wanted to top it off with a win. Losing back to back games but playing well was tough but it showed me that we had minor tweaks to make as a team and if we made those then we would be able to finish the season out strong with some big wins.
Then you ran into Naiona Schmidt and missed a month and you needed some teeth rearranged. How tough was this injury? How are you doing today and did an injury like that hurt you a bit mentality regarding your faith in the process?
It was a tough injury because it’s so weird. I could run and jump perfectly fine and everything felt good but I have two teeth that are out of place. If they got hit , they could potentially fall out so it was very deceiving at first but I realized it was just a random accident that is a part of the game and I just had to be patient. I had to get braces for about a month and I couldn’t eat what I wanted for 2 weeks. I’m doing well today and I would like to commend BG Dorsten and the dentist who worked on my teeth and did a great job. The situation could’ve been handled in many different ways and they handled it perfectly. The only thing the injury did for me is be more cautious about my teeth while playing. I’m still the same player and it will not change anything about my faith because everything happens for a reason.
In your time there the club lost 4 of 6 games, but ended the season well winning 2 of 3 games. How would summarize the season for BG Dorsten?
It was tough coming into a losing situation because the year before, we had been so successful for the history of the club. To our defense, the team was injury plagued from the beginning of the season to the end so we played 1 game with our full roster. It took some adjusting to do and some losing habits had to be broken in practice for us to get back on the right track towards the end of the season. I feel that if I had not been out for a month when I got out there, the season would’ve ended completely different than how it did.
A big problem for the team was on the defensive end where it allowed 83 points. What difficulties did you see on the defensive end? Was at least the effort there?
Defensively, it was mainly just our second and third rotations that struggled. Somebody would rotate then somebody else would but there was always one person that wouldn’t rotate fast enough including me. The effort was there for the most part because we usually had good energy, we were just very undersized most of the time due to multiple injuries. This led to difficulties rebounding which led to second chance buckets for the opposing team.
Let’s talk about your teammates. Despite the injury, how much potential does young German Naionaa Schmidt have? What did you appreciate most of his game?
Nai has a lot of potential and he is a late bloomer which is going to benefit him in the long run. I tried to give him as much knowledge as I could to help him be a more efficient point guard. We both have the ability to use our speed but if not used right, we can seem very out of control. I appreciated how much he sprinted the floor and cut to the basket at the perfect times. His timing on those things are solid and a very underrated skill. He made it easy for me to make plays for him and to help him score. When locked in, he is also a good and athletic defender.
You were temmates with young Germn beast Arbnor Voca. How much potential does he have and what does he still need to do to become a better scorer with that huge body?
AB has all the potential in the world if he just understands how and when to use his strength. Once he slims down, he will also be nimbler and quicker. We played futbol in practice one time and it was the fastest I had ever seen him move. From that point on I understood that he has the potential to dominate at his size, he just needs to tap into it.
You played only 3 games averaging 21.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 6.0apg, 3.3spg. How tough is it to rate your season when you played so few games?
It’s such a small sample size that I can’t even really rate it. I think I played solid considering I came in towards the end of the season and I only played 3 games.
How do you see your development as a player this season despite the few games? Last season it was pace. Do you feel like in the months that you missed and being able to work on your game without playing games that you made some new steps or do you see your second professional year as a lost year?
I see myself always developing as a player whether it has to do with skills or just the small things that make a good player. I feel like my leadership and floor general skills took a big leap in this short amount of time because this team’s build up was completely different than last year’s build. This caused me to have to figure out how I could best help the team without hurting. So, all together I feel like I grew more as a person on and off the court.
You had a lot of misfortune this season. First getting signed late, then the injury and then Corona cutting your season short. What did you learn this season that will help you in the future when adversary and misfortune comes into play?
I learned that I can’t take any of these things for granted and that I have to always stay ready because I never know when I will receive an opportunity that can change the course of my career. I’ve had a lot of adversity throughout my basketball career but this season of adversity really built me up because it was at a high level. These lessons I learn during basketball are things that will help me later in life down the road.
What is the next step for you? There are many great American guards in the German Regionalliga. But what separates you from them when looking to move to the next level?
I think what separates me is my size, athleticism and instincts at the position. You can teach skill, but those things that I listed you can’t teach. I also bring other things to the table that don’t have to do with basketball such as how I interact with the fans, community and my teammates in whatever club I’m playing for. I am a pretty outgoing person and I think that helps my teammates from a completely different culture feel more comfortable around me. All these things lead to camaraderie and build trust with my teammates and staff which lead to successful teams and wins.
Luka Doncic had an amazing sophomore campaign. Is he a top 3 NBA player now?
I am a big fan of Luka but I don’t think he has a large enough NBA resume to be conspired top 3 in the league right now. My top 3 would be
Where were you when you heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. What kind of influence did he have on you during adolescence?
I was in Germany at the time, it happened in the morning at home in Los Angeles, so because of the time difference it was very late when I found out. I was actually born the year that he was drafted (1996) so there is some type of attachment to him as a player and also that draft class. It has been considered to be a top draft class of all time. Growing up, my first real introduction to basketball was in 2003 when Lebron got drafted into the league and he was always my favorite player. Basketball fans always made it seem like you had to choose one and I was always against Kobe but I understood his greatness. A lot of mentality things like waking up early and working on your left hand, I got from just soaking in game from Kobe and what he put out there for us to know.
What was the last movie that you saw
A movie called Queen and Slim.. 10/10
Thanks Mike for the chat.