BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THERE’S simply no stopping to the meteoric rise of Zimbabwe national basketball captain Vitalis Chikoko.
Last year he was nominated for the French League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, before being selected to feature in the league’s esteemed All-Star Game but just seven games into the new season, Chikoko looks well poised for yet another memorable season.
The 2,08 metres tall 28-year-old power forward is enjoying a dream debut season at Metropolitans 92, who are currently top of the LNB Pro A log after winning their first seven games of the regular season.
Chikoko joined Metropolitans 92 four months ago from another French club Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez, where he enjoyed three successful seasons since joining the club in 2016.
The Zimbabwean has been earning rave reviews after a brilliant start to the season at Metropolitans 92, with the French LNB Pro A’s official website describing him as the best center in the country.
A humble Chikoko refused to describe himself as the best centre in the French league but admitted that he had established himself as one of the best.
“I don’t know man,” Chikoko said with a chuckle after being asked if he felt he is now the best center in the European country. “It’s not for me to say. We must ask others about that. But I think I’m certainly one of the best and I work every day to be the best at the end of the season. But the season is still long,” he said.
Last week the former Prince Edward pupil was in the limelight after overcoming a hostile reception from fans of his former club Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez as he led Metropolitans 92 to a 114-110 victory in overtime.
Chikoko said he was not disappointed with the negative reaction he received from his former fans as he managed 18 points; four rebounds and one assist against Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez on Sunday
“The fans wanted me to stay for life here, so I understand their disappointment,” he said. “They were angry when I left so their reaction is normal. “I still have friends here and they did not whistle me.”
Chikoko, who produced another top notch performance as Metropolitans 92 defeated Boulazac 101-97 on Tuesday, said his goal was to win the French championship.
“It’s going to be hard but we’re going to win. Anyway we want to win every game. My goal is to be champion. My personal goal each season is to win a ring at the end,” he said.
Chikoko has been based in Europe since 2011 when he joined German Bundesliga side ASC Göttingen from Mbare Heat before switching base to fellow German top-flight side TBB Trier.
The Zimbabwean also had stints in Italy with Pallacanestro Reggiana and Tenezis Verona in 2015 before returning to Germany a year later after being signed by Bayern Munich.