Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Jean Victor Nguidjol, former Lyceum Pirate looks forward to NBA Draft

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Jean Nguidjol, former Lyceum Pirate looks forward to NBA Draft
by rick olivares

Jean Victor Nguidjol, the Cameroonian basketball player who made the news wires in the Philippines after he was selected by the NBA D-League team, Austin Spurs with the 16th pick overall during the last draft, is back in Manila if only for a few days. The six-foot-ten Nguidjol played last year for the Lyceum of the Philippines Pirates for the 91st season of the NCAA. He also suited up for the Pirates while serving his residency in other leagues.

“I’m in town to see my son,” said Nguidjol. “He was born during the time of the D-League draft. And I also wanted to visit my former teammates at Lyceum.”

Unfortunately for the Pirates, they succumbed to defending NCAA champion, Letran, 89-84, in the last few minutes of their encounter in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup to fall to a 1-1 slate. “They look good,” observed Nguidjol of the Pirates despite the loss. “Just some missed shots here and there; they are competitive.”

It was while playing for the Pirates where Nguidjol averaged 11.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks that he was seen by the Austin Spurs. “They saw our game videos on YouTube,” related Lyceum assistant coach Ricky Reyes. “And it so happened that Victor was in vacation in the United States when they drafted him."

“It was a big surprise,” said Nguidjol of the selection by the Austin Spurs that is an affiliate of the NBA San Antonio Spurs. “The San Antonio Spurs are my favorite basketball team and when I heard I was selected, I went to my room and cried."

"In Cameroon, football is the biggest sport and I love it too. But basketball became my dream when I saw of my countrymen make it to the NBA like Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje (Portland Trailblazers from 2001-04) and Luc Mbah a Moute (Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Clippers). So I gave basketball a try.”

Nguidjol wanted to play in the United States but instead found himself in the Philippines. “It was a good decision because it changed my life,” said the Yaounde, Cameroon native. “I first tried out for UP but wasn’t able to go there so I went to Lyceum. And I am grateful for the chances that Coach Topex Robinson and his coaching staff gave me."

Jean's picture on the Austin Spurs' website.
Nguidjol saw sparse playing time with the Spurs. “The speed of the game is different, much faster. The spacing is different as well. And you are always up against taller players which is another adjustment for me. Here in the Philippines, the game is physical which isn’t always good. In the US, it’s not just the athleticism but a mind game. You need a high basketball IQ to succeed. The D-League is a good learning experience for me."

“I’m going back next week to the US to take part in the upcoming NBA Draft. It’s a long shot, I know but I have to try. If not, I can continue to learn and grow with the Austin Spurs,” he told of his plans. “But who thought that my basketball journey would begin here in the Philippines? I don’t know how or where my career will go but I am grateful for the chances and will always have good memories of this country."

1 comment:

  1. Keep articles like these coming. I've always wanted to know what happens to foreign (especially African) players after their runs in the college ranks. It's a shame though that we won't be seeing stories like these from NCAA players (since foreign players are no longer allowed...unless that was already overruled) in the relatively distant future.