Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

After having a spectacular season in the FIBA Champions League with BAXI Manresa, Chima Moneke is preparing for a straight jump to the NBA, where he will sign with the Sacramento Kings.

Chima Moneke

Chima  Moneke
Team: BAXI Manresa
Position: PF
Age: 26
Height: 198 cm
Weight: 101 kg
Birth place: Abuja, Nigeria

The 26-year-old averaged 13.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 14.3 EFF, and was named Champions League MVP.

"This moment feels unreal on the one hand and very real on the other because I waited for it for so many years. I imagined it for a long time, and now it has happened," Moneke said in an interview with sport5.co.il "I had to choose between Sacramento and two other NBA teams that were interested. It was a surreal moment."

"From getting cut in 2nd division [in] France 3 games into my rookie season while making 2200 euros a month… to signing an NBA contract 4 years later… crazy," Moneke reacted to his move to the NBA on Twitter.

Moneke elaborated on the story during the interview with Sport5, saying that the head coach did not know how to use him.

"The coach did not really know how to use me. He wanted me to be another player and did not give me a chance," he recalled. "I remember he said I did not have the ability to play in the second French league. Four years after, I am in the NBA, and he is unemployed without a team."

The Nigerian forward also said the doubts about him were following him throughout his entire career.

"There are always questions. 'Chima is good, but then there's that and that. At first, it annoyed me because people did not see me as I see myself, but when I grew up, I realized that other people's opinions are bullshit, it does not matter. 

What matters more is my opinion of myself and the work I do. It is more important than any negativity that people who do not know me say. Now in the NBA, more people will wonder about me and ask if I'm really an NBA player, but I like it. 

2-pointers this season

53%
29,1
Points made: 29,1
Accuracy: 53,0%
Place in standings: 10
Record max: 40
Record min: 20
Most made 2FGs: De'Aaron Fox

It's the last test. When I prove to people that I belong there, I hope all the doubts and negatives are left behind," Moneke continued.

Moneke also admitted that the Kings coach Jordi Fernandez influenced his move to Sacramento. 

Moneke, Fernandez, and Kings head coach Mike Brown were part of the Nigeria national team last year.

"In the morning of the Champions League final, I woke up, and there was one missed call from the night. It was Mike," Moneke recalled. "I called him back, and he told me he would be the Kings coach and wanted me to be a part of it. It was surreal to hear that."

"But my agent told me it was going to happen. Brown brought the two assistant coaches from Nigeria, and I had a great relationship with them. The reason I came to Manresa is Jordi Fernandez. I have a close relationship with him, and he is the biggest reason it happened this time, too," Moneke added.

Asked about his upcoming role with the Kings, Moneke admitted that he doesn't think too much about it and wants to earn everything.

"I have to get there and just be who I am," said Moneke. "I do not want anyone to give me anything, I want to work for it. When I get there, I will start training and prove that I belong. I will not be afraid of anyone. I will find my way in rotation."

"I train with NBA stars – Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jason Tatum, among others, and I do not look at them as heroes. I look at them because they are where I want to be, but in the end, they are basketball players who play at the highest level.

And I want to be a basketball player who plays at the highest level. It's always good to see them and compare yourself. Even four years ago, I knew I would come here one day. Now I'm here," Moneke concluded.

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