Hilary Kubai, a fourth year Medicine student (MBChB) at the University of Nairobi is the Captain and Combo Forward for University of Nairobi’s basketball team, the UON “Terrorists”. They were recently crowned the first winners of the 2013 Zuku Basketball League Champions, a win that they fought hard for regardless of not being a “favourite” for the trophy. He sat down with us to talk about basketball and his love for the game.
Explain what “Combo Forward” means to those of us who know nothing about basketball?
It means that I can play two positions, either as a small forward or a power forward. It all depends on the team we are playing and what the coach wants to achieve.
Explain that a little more?
Well, the “small forwards” tend to be smaller, more agile and better ball handlers whereas “power forwards” are bigger, heavier players who are better rebounders. So a small forward is used for size, while a power forward is used for better mobility and spacing.
How long have you been playing?
Since high school, Form 1.
How did you start?
My brother had been playing basketball and he’s the one who got me interested in the sport. Plus, we had a really great coach in high school and he just made the game a lot of fun for me.
Why do you love basketball so much?
It’s exciting, fast paced and thrilling. Anything can happen and almost always does. Unlike football where you can end up watching for 90 minutes and not see a goal, basketball has the unique opportunity of offering up highlights every 24 seconds which keeps everyone on their toes more.
First team you played in?
EMYBA (Embakasi Youth Basketball Association)
How did you join it?
I joined because my high school coach was also the team’s coach, so it was an easy transition for me.
And now you play for the University of Nairobi Terrorists. What is it like being on the team?
Basketball is a demanding sport. It takes up a lot of my time, but I’ve learned that it can also teach you a lot. Apart from dedication and discipline, you learn skills like time management as well so you learn to create some sort of balance with the other areas of your life.
When did you become captain?
This year. There are no additional duties that come with the title, though. I’m just another player, only one with more experience overall.
Any awards / team wins that you’ve been part of?
We were recently crowned ZUKU Basketball League 2013 Champions. The team has also won other championships such as the Kusa Basketball League champions (2009), and the East Africa Basketball League champions (2009).
How do you guys celebrate big wins like those?
Thanking God because without him it wouldn’t be possible. Other than that, nothing much really. We just get back to training.
What was (hands down) your greatest Basketball moment?
I guess winning the ZUBL championship. We weren’t the favourites, and beating the favourites enroute to the trophy was a gratifying experience.
Winning many more championships!!