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NBL Player Profile: Ekene Ibekwe
Steve Chalmers provides a background check on the most unknown import in the NBL this season, including what he brings to the Breakers' title hopes.
Who is Ekene Ibekwe?
The name is Ekenechukwu Brian Ibekwe, a 29 year old Nigerian international power forward, who has had experience at the top level during both the World Championships and the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The 6'9'' forward will go by the much easier pronunciation of 'E-Beks' during his time in the NBL, to the relief of both commentators and fans around the nation.
Ibekwe is most known for his rebounding ability, and possess great mobility for a big man:
"I watched Ekene while in Vegas recently and immediately liked what I saw. He has a 7'6" wingspan, plays above the rim and is an elite shot blocker," - Breakers Head Coach Dean Vickerman
Ibekwe graduated from the University of Maryland, where he was most known for his defensive capabilities. By the end of his four year tenure, he became just the fourth person in school history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 blocks.
From there he went undrafted in the 2007 NBA draft, and went touring internationally to play professional basketball.
Playing in a variety of countries, Ibekwe didn't just stay in one continent; he's played in Israel, France, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Iran, Germany and Spain.
Ibekwe also spent time in the Summer League play for the Phoenix Suns in 2008, Toronto Raptors in 2009 and Portland Trail-Blazers in 2010 and 2012, however was unsuccessful in gaining an NBA contract.
His most successful stint came during his early years, where he was named 'Power Forward of the Year' and made the All Star team during his first season in Turkey in 2009.
The great news for the Breakers is that he was lured to the NBL due to a friend's comment regarding what the NBL was like, hence he'll know what to expect right from the get go.
"I have heard it is close to the NBA for its professionalism and all my friends who have played out there loved it. They told me I am going to be happy in this environment and I only hear good things about the league and the country itself, I can't wait." - Ibekwe
Ibekwe told New Zealand media about what he wanted to bring to New Zealand:
“I love to get up and down the floor, I like to penetrate, I can shoot pretty well and I like to play some hard defence, blocking shots. I look to be really aggressive wherever I can and be a presence, bring energy to the team and get the crowd into it."
In hope that the above has uncovered some unknowns about the new Breakers mystery man, we now all look forward to seeing him on the court for the team across the ditch.