The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Tinashe Kusema

THERE are a slew of bul­let points that stand out about Foxes’ point-guard Nathan “Gi­vas” Warikandwa (Pic­tured).

Im­mensely tal­ented, hugely pop­u­lar, some­what con­tro­ver­sial are usu­ally the first three on any ob­server’s list.

It’s th­ese traits that com­bine to make the 28-year-old one of the most colour­ful char­ac­ters on Zimbabwe’s basketball scene.

“Gi­vas is (the slang) for Glen View and that is where I am from,” said Warikandwa.

“I am very pop­u­lar there. If you drop off any­where in Glen View and ask any ran­dom per­son where Gi­vas stays, odds are they will di­rect you straight to my house. You might even get a free drink or two for merely ask­ing.”

As ex­ag­ger­ated as this may be, what is not in­flated is the tal­ent this Churchill Boys High alum pos­sesses.

Gi­vas emerged as the sole bright light of an oth­er­wise mis­er­able run by Zimbabwe’s four teams at the re­cent Zone Six Club Basketball Cham­pi­onships.

Warikandwa also used the cham­pi­onships to re­solve some un­fin­ished busi­ness with old foe Harare City Hor­nets. The per­for­mances earned him a move to the Botswana Po­lice club, with Warikandwa ex­pected to link with his new team to­mor­row.

“This was my third club cham­pi­onship event but ar­guably the best of my en­tire ca­reer. I en­tered the games as a cham­pion with Foxes; a team many thought would never win the ti­tle, but one that turned doubters into be­liev­ers.

“I played a lit­tle basketball in Botswana some three years back, and that to me was the de­cid­ing fac­tor. I al­ready know most of my new team­mates at the Po­lice side from my days as a ri­val at Dol­phins, so ac­cli­ma­tis­ing won’t be hard.

“Also, I am now a fam­ily man, with mouths to feed, and they of­fered me a very lu­cra­tive con­tract that will en­able me to play the game I love and pro­vide for my fam­ily,” he said.

One of the biggest crit­i­cisms lev­elled against him is the size of his ego, which more of­ten than not has seen him clash with team­mates and coaches.

At Glen View Rock­ets, there was a feel­ing of be­trayal af­ter he left the team high and dry when coaches were start­ing to build the team around him. At Harare City Hor­nets, his clashes with Coach Lang­ton “LK” Moyo are well-doc­u­mented with the gaffer ac­cus­ing him of indis­ci­pline. Warikandwa sees things dif­fer­ently. “The first thing you have to know about me is that I am a very pas­sion­ate and com­pet­i­tive per­son,” said Warikandwa.

“Once I step onto that court, I have no friends ex­cept my team­mates. I am the type of per­son who will foul you in­ten­tion­ally dur­ing a game and then look for you to buy you a drink and apol­o­gise af­ter. Leav­ing Rock­ets hurt me prob­a­bly more than it hurt those I left but I had to make a de­ci­sion that was best for me and my ca­reer. Hor­nets were a cham­pi­onship cal­i­bre team; one that I thought could help me win more cham­pi­onships and more medals. Be­sides they of­fered me money and who wouldn’t want to be paid for their work?” That re­la­tion­ship did not last long. “Peo­ple are go­ing to say what­ever they want about why I left Hor­nets and I don’t re­ally care. The truth is I wanted more min­utes and more game time; i thought I had earned that much.

“I made my feel­ings known to the coach but he thought oth­er­wise. I moved on, won a ti­tle and that is now wa­ter un­der the bridge,” he said.

But it is not all quite as done as dusted as he ini­tially im­plies.

“It is funny that Hor­nets were one of the teams that ap­proached me dur­ing the Bu­l­awayo Games and I told them I will move un­der two con­di­tions.

“One, they make me the high­est paid player in the squad and also they pay me the out­stand­ing pay and al­lowances they owe me from my time there. I think it amounts to $3 500,” he said.

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