Vitalis Chikoko - Photo from BG Göttingen

Vitalis Chikoko woke up Saturday, February 11 without knowing he would make history. The Zimbabwean talent knew he would be celebrating his 21st birthday. But his head coach Michael Meeks surprised Chikoko shortly before the BG Göttingen home game against Alba Berlin and told him he would be starting.

“He did not say anything ahead of time. He just said you are starting when the game was about to start. I was shocked, at the same time I was happy,” Chikoko told heinnews.

Chikoko came into the game having played 10:45 total minutes over three appearances – his last one coming on November 26, 2011.

And then Meeks rewarded Chikoko for his excellent work ethic in practice and threw him into the starting five. And the birthday boy responded with 9 points, 3 rebounds (all three offensive boards), and 2 blocks in 14:43 minutes – all career highs.

“It felt so good. And the good thing is I tried to use it nicely so that next time I will get minutes again,” said Chikoko.
Meeks was pleased with Chikoko’s performance.

“Vitalis Chikoko deserves a special praise. He came to us as a young kid looking for a chance. And he gave a good example today as a professional basketball player,” said Meeks after the Berlin game.

Chikoko definitely feels he’s ready to take the next step.

“I have confidence now. I think I can play against anyone in the BBL because am not afraid any more,” said the Harare native.

Chikoko has been at Göttingen since September when he signed a four-year contract after being on the books of the Zimbabwean team Dzivarasekwa Raiders last season.

Chikoko has spent this season playing predominantly with Göttingen’s farm team, ASC 46 Göttingen, in the fourth division, where he has dominated the competition, averaging 13.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in 14 games.

“Vitalis is a huge talent,” said Jan Schiecke, sports director of Chikoko’s current club BG Göttingen in Germany.

“We are happy that he will be taking the next step in his development in Göttingen. He is enormously athletic and versatile and has a good feel for the game. Now it’s our job to support him and get the most out of his potential. Vitalis’s biggest strength is definitely his will to get better.”

Chikoko picked up basketball when he was 11-years-old because he was too tall to play soccer. His first real exposure to international basketball came at age 17 when he captained Zimbabwe’s team at the 2008 FIBA U18 Africa Championship. Then in January 2011, Chikoko made his debut for the Zimbabwe senior national team, helping the country to a 2-2 record at the 2011FIBA Africa Championship qualifiers.

One of Chikoko’s biggest moments for his confidence came in a game against Angola international veteran Joaquim Gomes, a winner of multiple African championship titles who has also played at two Olympic Games and three FIBA World Championships.

“At first I was afraid of the name Gomes and of him,” Chikoko recalled. “But I blocked his first shot and then scored on a drive on him at the other end. I was like ‘I can play against this guy’. He was giving me some respect so that was cool. I thought, I just have to play my game.”

Even though he is playing mainly power forward and center with the fourth division Göttingen side, Chikoko hopes to play more of the small forward position – just like his idol Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

While he would love to play the three, Chikoko will take any BBL minutes he can. And then take advantage so he can play even more.

Tags

 

1 Comment

  1. audrey madzima says:

    you are making us proud Vitalis keep it up and we supporting you all the way