Eric Kibi Experienced COVID From All Angles Including a Touch of Tom Hanks And The Terminal In Argentina

It is no secret that after a long flight and basketball players can attest to that, the greatest feeling is to be finally at home, set foot back on American soil and jump into the arms of your loved ones. But before landing from a long flight, the excitement seems to grow to finally be home especially when your about to land, but that feeling of touchdown with that back plane wheel touching the ground and the clapping of the passengers seems to sometimes take forever to happen with minutes and minutes dragging on during the approach. That happens when the approach to land takes long especially when your flying to New York that currently has 18 plus million or Mexico City that currently has 21 million plus inhabitants. I wonder what that approach must feel like when your about to land in Tokyo that currently has 37 million plus people running around. In the top 13 cities in the world, I have had the fortune to land at three of them with New York City, Sao Paulo, Brazil that currently has 21 million plus and Buenos Aires, Argentina that has 14 million plus people living there. I can remember the incredible approach to Buenos Aires many times with my 17 visits to the country that brought the football world Maradona and Messi. With the Jumbo jet coming in from the north with the Rio De La Plata river on the left and then seeing the breath-taking unending city line of Buenos Aires as you pass several land marks like the famous River Plate stadium and see the Obelisk statue that stands in the 9 de Julion Avenue that runs three kilometers through the city that at times seems like a Daytona 500 race track with all the pesky black taxi’s trying to squirm between the unending amount of buses. The buildings of Buenos Aires seem unending as you pass the city that never ends. The buildings and houses are present for at least 20 kilometers until the plane finally touches down at Ezeiza international airport which is 31 kilometers from the city. The taxi drive from the airport to Buenos Aires sometimes seems as long as the 12 hour flight from Germany when annoying traffic is present. It is a total event just reaching Buenos Aires, but what about having to live at an airport. Everyone who observed Tom Hanks in the Terminal knows what that is like and so does professional globe trotting player Eric Kibi (198-F-90, college: ACU)i who lived at Ezeiza airport recently during COVID. During the 2019-2020 season, he came to Argentina and played for 2 clubs called Libertad Sunchales (Argentina-La Liga) and BHY Tiro Federal y Deportivo Morteros (Argentina-La Liga) and the COVID struck in March 2020. ‘I got to know Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires pretty well. I spent two nights in the airport after my flight home was cancelled. I arrived at the airport around 3pm for my 9pm flight back to Canada and unfortunately at around 8pm the president of Argentina shut the countries borders so my flight was cancelled and the border was closed for the next two weeks. Initially they didn’t let foreigners leave the airport so that’s why I spent the 2 nights in the airport until I was able to get to a hotel. I walked around, did a lot of reading, but couldn’t go outside and there weren’t many restaurants open. The Canadian embassy finally sent a repatriation flight two weeks later’, remembered Eric Kibi. COVID hasn’t been easy for anyone as it has brought the world apart and for Kibi he has seen a lot in the last year and not only had to live with COVID in Argentina, but also this season in Holland. COVID has been a very challenging time for everyone on and off the court and it is always interesting to hear the different responses from players overseas how the whole situation has made them stronger as men. ‘My self-discipline was always good but this time it was even much more needed, to discipline yourself to keep getting better or keeping your cardio without any gym access for 3-4 months can be hard but very rewarding’, stressed Eric Kibi. He definitely experienced COVID from all angles including a touch of Tom Hanks and the Terminal.

A typical descent to Ezeiza airport coming from the north over Buenos Aires with the famous football stadium of River Plate.

The Congo national player who feels that Boston Celtic guard Jayson Tatum is ready to take over for the next generation after Durant, Curry and Harden decline definitely has a better feeling for scraping that tough rebound off the glass then predicting how many interviews I have done with him as he thought 7 or 8, but it actually has been 13 since 2014. We still have a way to go to catch the 22 interviews I have done with Mr Euroleague Kyle Hines. ‘It would be great to catch him or even have a career even remotely close to his, but he is a legend’, warned Eric Kibi. As COVID hit the world, he was at the tail end of the 2019-2020 season that saw him ball with Libertad Sunchales (Argentina-La Liga) playing 15 Argentinian La Liga games averaging 14.5ppg, 10.1rpg, 2FGP: 47.8%, 3FGP: 36.4%, FT: 53.0% and then moved to BHY Tiro Federal y Deportivo Morteros (Argentina-La Liga Argentina) playing 15 games averaging 14.5ppg, 10.1rpg, 2FGP: 47.8%, 3FGP: 36.4%, FT: 53.0%. He was able to concentrate on his game before COVID came and was able to make strides in his game. ‘Argentina was my first South American experience so it was definitely an eye opener. The Argentinian game is very similar to the Spanish game, very high IQ players there. I can for sure say my IQ for the game improved’, expressed Eric Kibi. In Argentina he scored in double figures in 15 games including 29 points against Obera TC, 27 points and 16 boards against Echague and 23 points and 15 rebounds against Union Santa Fe. During the summer 2020 the 30 year old 198cm forward who believes that despite not wining a NBA title yet, Chris Paul is an all-time top 5 point guard continued to play ball in Canada with the Ottawa Blackjacks (Canada-CEBL) playing 6 games averaging 6.3ppg, 5.2rpg, FGP: 50.0%, FT: 57.1%

Kibi who hails from Quebec City, Canada has played 9 professional seasons. After getting a good taste of what basketball is like in the States playing at Jacksonville College (NJCAA), University of Arkansas at Little Rock (NCAA) and Abilene Christian University (NCAA2), he embarked on a professional career that has brought him to countries like Germany, Montenegro, Denmark, Spain, France, Slovakia, Argentina and last season Holland. He played with The Hague Royals (Holland-DBL) in 2020-2021. It was an eye opening season for him and his team as they raised many eyebrows in the Dutch first division. ‘We lost a few close games by one or two points that cost us a playoff spot which was disappointing, but this group of guys had so much grit and character and kept battling. We made it hell for the big teams when they came to play us at home. We did finish strong though and won 5 of the last 7, I also think finishing 9th and one place outside of playoffs is a good accomplishment for this first year club’, stressed Eric Kibi. He has seen many leagues around the world and the Dutch league belonged to one of the best he has played in as a professional. ‘ I would say Argentina’s top league was a better league overall but the top 4 teams in this league, more or less have played euro cup in recent seasons (Leiden, den Bosch, Groningen and Zwolle) are all tough and high level European teams’, stated Eric Kibi. He had many Dutch teammates where he had a big impact on, but also on American Casey Lopez who had a similar route like him playing at Junior College in the States. ‘Casey was like my little brother. I see a lot of myself in him from when I was 22. He worked very hard and asked a lot of questions. His work ethic was already there so I didn’t have to do anything there. All I did was show him how to approach the game as a pro’, added Eric Kibi.

The forward who loves the style of the NBA’s all-time triple double leader Russell Westbrook and believes that with his work rate and mentality could lead a team in Europe to success played 20 games for the Hague Royals averaging 13.0ppg, 10.3 rpg , 1.2apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 45.9%, 3FGP: 16.7%, FT: 51.2%. Like most players that have a chip on their shoulders, he wasn’t 100% content with it. ‘ As far as individually I am satisfied but I still think I could of played a bit more consistently and especially shot the ball better. I shot it well last season from 3 but this season wasn’t great so I will keep working’, warned Eric Kibi. He has had some monster seasons as a professional as he had massive seasons in Germany early in his career for Pinneberg and Rendsburg averaging 19/9 and 20/15, but that was in the fourth division. In Holland he proved that not only could he have a big season, but that he could do it in a first division. ‘Statistically this was my best season as far as competition and players. But not only just stats but I think I showed that I can guard every position on the court, I guarded Euro Cup point guards this season but I also guarded the league MVP, Center so I think statistically yes but I think coach really allowed be to show my full versatility’, remembered Eric Kibi. He has always been an incredible rebounder at 198cm and has demonstrated it over and over in different leagues. He won the rebounding crown in Holland and met his goal. ‘This was a goal that I set for myself in the beginning of the season so I am happy I achieved it. Not only that but rebounding was a big need on our team because we were a small team, so these weren’t empty stats, It was my job to rebound well or else we didn’t have a good chance to win’, said Eric Kibi. He scored in double figures in 15 games and registered 8 double doubles. He had his two best rebounding games back to back against Almere and Amsterdam producing 25/17 and 11/18 stats. After suffering some pain in France two seasons ago, he came back strong in Holland and his point guard experience helped his game. ‘I played point guard in France NM1 and this definitely helped my game to become more versatile, but it was also difficult so the last two years mainly I think the setbacks I had in France gave me a boost and a wake up call. So if anything it made me work harder and increased my confidence’, expressed Eric Kibi.

The forward who doesn’t believe that Golden State Warrior Draymond Green is the best defender all-time as he sees 10 guys before him had the chance to continue his basketball career after Holland in Morocco, but wasn’t able to. ‘I had originally signed with As De Sale about one month ago for the NBA Basketball African League. I already had my ticket and was set to leave but there were some administrative problems with my passport and FIBA so I was not able to join them in Kigali, Rwanda for the competition. It is disappointing as I was very excited to play on this stage but everything happens for a reason’, commented Eric Kibi. This summer he will continue to work hard in the lab on his shot and add counter moves when his main moves get taken away. He has big plans for the summer and next season and who knows perhaps one will see him balling in Germany again. ‘This summer there is the 2021 Afrobasket in Rwanda. I played in the last edition in 2017 and also won the AfroCan with my national team in 2019. Unfortunately I wasn’t called up for any of the qualifying windows which was disappointing but I hope to get the call in the summer, I think I’ve earned it. Congo is always in my heart regardless. As far as next season, the BBL has always been a goal of mine like I’ve said in the past after starting in the Regionalliga in 2012 but I want to make the best decision for my career that is going to continue to help me grow as a basketball player and reach my goals’, warned Eric Kibi. Besides working on his game the versatile player who didn’t like the Coming To American sequel and feels that they should of left it alone will also continue to follow some of his friends like Deandre Lansdowne of Strasburg who reached the Basketball Champions League Final 8 and is battling for the Pro A title in France. ‘ Me and Dee are high school friends and we still talk often. He has helped me a lot in the last two years with my nutrition and intermittent fasting, as I’ve changed my diet as I’ve gotten older. I’m proud of his success, He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve met. His Euroleague call will come soon but for now he’s doing great things as the captain of a basketball champions league team in the Final 8’, added Eric Kibi. It will be interesting to observe where his path will go next season. He definitely has seen many airports in his career. But if he will sit through ‘The Terminal’ with Tom Hanks is another story. He probably doesn’t need to be reminded about airports. He will see plenty more in his basketball career. But the next one he definitely knows as he will play with the Ottawa Blackjacks (Canada-CEBL) again this summer.

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