5 star hotels, private jets and incredible tasty cuisine is something only NBA players will get to tell their grandchildren about one day, but what about the normal schmo’s playing the game they love. How does a road trip look like to them? Euroleague teams travel in style, but they are still far away to how NBA teams are treated and many first divisions in Europe travel well. But then there are so many other players who have to travel long and hard to that next away game and can tell other kind of stories to their grandchildren that NBA players couldn’t even imagine of. One guy who could write book about his crazy globetrotting life in Eric Kibi (198-F-1990, college: ACU) He is 31 years old and is in his 10th season and has balled in more than 200 professional games for 19 organizations in 12 countries including Germany Canada Montenegro Denmark, Spain, France Slovakia Iraq Argentina Holland Morocco and Chile. The guy has literally seen it all. He is a guy that has played in a lot of lower leagues where the road trips were a real grind. But that is nothing new to him. He has always been used to the grind, because he has always been a gym rat and constantly worked on his game. Currently he is balling in Chile for CD Tinguiririca San Fernando (Chile-Liga Nacional) and seemingly living in a bus is an understatement. Back in the 90’s I was visiting Argentina a lot and also had to befriend the long bus trips. It was just my bad luck that I had to have found friends that lived in the middle of nowhere and weren’t situated in the country capital Buenos Aires that had a population of 11 million plus. I remember that my friends only lived 400 kilometers away and if I was in Germany a distance of that with the highway would have taken about 4 hours. But for me driving to General Villegas took 8-9 hours mainly because there was no highway and you traveled on bumpy roads and seemingly stopped in every little town. Just when you had got some shut eye, the lights came on and new people were getting on the bus. I would get on at 11 or mid night and then get to my destination when the sun came up and the roosters were saying good morning. For a guy living in Boston, I only knew how to travel by car or plane. That is why the long bus ride seemed like an eternity. It is good to know that even 15 years late when Eric Kibi was in JUCO, the sound of a Walk Man was still in style. I never left home without my walk man. This season in Chile, the bus was only a part of the road trip. ‘The bus trips are pretty crazy here. But this one we are currently on is probably one of the longest but also the coolest. This weekend we play two historic teams in Ancud and Castro. They are located on a beautiful island in Chile that they call Chiloe. So what we did is we practiced until 10pm and then at midnight we got on a bus for 12 hours and then had to get on a boat for another hour then off the boat and drive another hour and a half. The view on the boat was amazing, it is very beautiful to see. We arrived at the hotel at about 3.00 in the afternoon, then we practiced at night and we will played tomorrow and Saturday. It really had me reminiscing to my JUCO days in Texas in 2009 where we would travel for hours and the only difference is in those days I had an iPhone 2 and no wifi haha, it was straight CD Walkman for hours’, remembered Eric Kibi A Bus and Boat in one long road trip could be another chapter for a Eric Kibi book chronicling his crazy globetrotting basketball life.
The forward that lists players Justin Satchell and Argentinian big man Christian Amicucci who plays like Luis Scola as his toughest foes on the court in Chile this season and can swipe down numerous rebounds a game the same way Steph Curry can drop three’s doesn’t matter where he plays each season as long as there is a court and he has a ball he is happy. He has never been afraid to go to new countries. In Chile he is playing for the third time in a Spanish country and is proud that he no longer needs a translator. He is still seeking his first professional title, and unfortunately it won’t happen in Chille either. ‘It does get difficult. I can’t lie to you. I got close in 2016 and lost in the last minute of a Game 7 and still think about it until this day. But I wake up every morning still motivated, still feeling blessed to have the opportunity to even do this for a living as long as I have and if it’s in God’s plans for me to win one it will happen if it’s not then so be it, I’m still going to keep working’, said Eric Kibi He is having another incredible personal season, but the only downside is that the club hasn’t been as successful as his play. With the season winding down this weekend, they are near the bottom of the standings. Obviously, it isn’t easy to play so well and suffer loses. ‘It’s been difficult, yes, since we also went through a coaching change mid-season. But our new coach Alejandro Iturra who’s the assistant of the Chilean National team, honestly I can say has gotten the most out of this team and we are competing against the top teams. I really appreciate working with him and he’s helped me improve my game’, stressed Eric Kibi It is no surprise that the club is scoring a lot as that is a norm in South American countries, but it’s the defense that has crippled their play as they allow 91 points on average. ‘Yes unfortunately in this league the centers are quite big with most of the time them being a foreigner and in our team our foreign reinforcement at the 5 had some issues with the club so we have been playing most of the season without a center and I think this is what hurts us at times. We can get by for a bit with the small ball because we have so many shooters but over the course of the game it’s difficult to beat the top teams like that if the shots aren’t falling one day’, warned Eric Kibi With two games left this weekend, he is positive though that he can end his challenge in South America positively. ‘I’m very confident, we have been working hard taking the big teams to the wire the last 4-5 games, we deserve it and the city of San Fernando deserves it. They were champions in 2014 and are basketball lovers here. They have stayed with us through thick and thin through some tough losses at home. Coach especially puts in so much effort into the scouting reports and film so we owe it to him. We still have a slight chance at the playoffs’, warned Eric Kibi
The forward who’s heart bleeds for the Toronto Raptors but favors the Celtics in the east and Warriors in the west in the current NBA playoffs has played in so many countries and in so many various kinds of leagues where the style, skill level and competition level is always different. One would be surprised possibly a little bit just how skilled the basketball is in Chile. The rebounding monster has seen it all and knows what he is talking about. ‘I would say the top 4-5 teams are pretty much BBL teams and that’s mostly because they have good local players who all play for the national team. The rest are more low BBL, Pro A level. I would say Germany is more physical for sure and the youth system is much better but Chile has some good young guards, especially Franco Morales that are BBL talents that could rival with the Per Gunther and Maodo Lo easily’, warned Eric Kibi In many leagues the 31 year old would be the elder statesman but with his team CD Tinguiririca San Fernando (Chile-Liga Nacional) he is somewhere in the middle of the pack with his 31 years. For once it has been nice not being the oldest guy on the team. ‘There are a few, I’m very close with Julius Holt and our captain Eduardo Sepulveda. They are both 36 and former national team players, both been pros 18 years. I pick their brains so much every day’, added Eric Kibi Not only securing rebounds in the manner of a Bill Russell back in the day has been a pleasure for him, but also sharing he floor with then Sepulveda brothers something that doesn’t occur to often. ‘ Eduardo has a younger brother, Matthias who is also on the team and man can he go. Matti just had 33 points in 23 minutes last week. He is a very gifted scorer and it’s a matter of time before he plays on the national team. But those are my guys. I love it because they are competitors and every practice they compete, they yell I love it and it carries over to games’, commented Eric Kibi
The ex Abil.Christian (NCAA2) player who witnessed the Will Smith slap of funny comedian Chris Rock and believes that everyone makes mistakes and that shouldn’t diminish the outstanding career that the Men Of Black star is having another outstanding season. Currently he is averaging 20,0ppg and 15,0 rebounds per game. This extraordinary season has brought back flashbacks to his stellar season early in his career where he averaged the same kind of stats with Regionalliga team Rendsburg. His massive chip on his shoulder is something that has powered him his whole career. ‘I think I still get doubted a lot by coaches and organizations during the signing periods and that really motivates me every day. I feel like I should be playing in higher leagues but that’s fine I don’t sulk about it I just double down on the work. Last three years, I changed my diet, went Vegan, took up intermittent fasting and I think my last 3 seasons in Argentina, Holland and here speak for themselves’, warned Eric Kibi His noteworthy skills in Chile speak for themselves as he has scored in double figures 16 times and scored 20 points or more 12 times. He had a lethal monster game against Temuco with 24 points and 24 boards. Getting to the magical Kevin Love area of 20 or more rebounds is seldom. He has done it a few times including early in his career in Germany where he totally smothered Regionalliga team Cottbus with a 28/26 demolition and hit a sweet buzzer beater for good measure. Getting to that 20 rebound boundry has less to do with fortune but moreover it depends if one guy is on him or the whole team in exactly how many boards he will haul down. ‘There’s no luck about that, I think rebounding is all about will, heart and cardio. Some games I’ll have 3 guys boxing me out so I can’t get to offensive rebounds which is the big difference because every game I’ll always get my 10-12 defensive rebounds now the question becomes how many offensive rebounds do I get today, it can be 3,4,5 but the games where guys forget about me and I’ve been able to get 8, or 9’, expressed Eric Kibi He may b 31 years old, but he still has so much basketball and hunger left in his lion body. Wondering where he will go next each summer is as exciting to predict as is how many rebounds he will get each game. He is a player that has proved time in and time out that he is good enough for higher leagues. Will he get a new opportunity next season in a higher league? ‘This summer the strategy is simply to try to reach the highest league possible. I find the South American basketball champions league very interesting. Also In my head I know there are players with similar playing styles as me in the top leagues in Europe (France Pro A, Spain ACB, Germany BBL, EuroCup etc) I’m not scared of any leagues, system or player. I believe I can adjust to anything. I believe I can play in those leagues but obviously I need that opportunity and whether that’s next season or in the future, I’ve prepared myself so much mentally through film and mental practice that I’ll be ready.’, warned Eric Kibi It will be interesting to see where the talkative player will play next? The world is big and this basketball globetrotter is always game for new challenges. Who knows maybe his path will take him to Asia or Australia, two places where he has never played before. One thing is for sure that he will always find himself on a bus again. There will always be new road trip stories to be told that he can sample for that possible future book.