M3BA team snaps up talented local star
Cape Town - Like an alley-oop, Nabihl Liebenberg is about to dunk his way into professional basketball, US style.
The Paarl-born basketball player signed a professional contract with Texas-based Purple Jags, who plays in the M3BA league in the US.
However, before leaving for the US in July, Liebenberg will have to take care of business in Spain later this month. He was invited by Liga ACB and EuroCup outfit Joventut Badalona to join them for a training camp.
Liebenberg said the Purple Jags showed an interest in him and wanted him to share his talents on a much higher level than he is currently playing on.
“I worked hard to present my game films to various scouts and agents. The Purple Jags showed appreciation for my special shooting skills and my ability to take care of my position.
“At first I was starstruck with the news but happy at the same time. I realised what I've put into this game has paid off. I'm very excited to take my talents to the US, be able to learn more about the game and more importantly to share my knowledge when I get back to South Africa.
“I'm hoping to be one of the best basketball players in the M3BA league. My main goal to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). It has been a childhood dream to play in the NBA, make a name for myself around the world, and for my country,” he said.
Liebenberg played for the Northern Cape Zebras in the 2020/2021 season of the Basketball National League (BNL). They were knocked out in the quarter-finals after going down 59-36 to the Tshwane Suns.
Liebenberg said: “It is a dream for any basketball player in South Africa to play in the BNL, but not everybody is willing to work for it. I started attending practices two hours earlier in order to become a better player. I managed to get two BNL contracts. One with the Eastern Cape Windbreakers and the other with the Northern Cape Zebras. I chose the Northern Cape Zebras because of better team spirit and chemistry. The experience was unbelievable.
“I played basketball, rugby and cricket as a kid. However, my love for basketball grew after watching Kobe Bryant on court. I saw his drive and he wanted to be the best basketball player he can be. The way he led inspired me to play basketball.
“In order to become a great basketball player, it's going to require hard work and dedication. The journey of becoming great is going to be full of trials and tribulations. The process of a seed turning to a plant means it goes through a rough process, but at the end of the day it's all worth it. It's a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.
His mother, Mary-Sheila, said: “I am super proud of him. I always thought his drive and love for basketball will take him far.”
His former coach, Lindile Sizani, said: “As he is playing in the professional league now, I believe that many players will change their way of thinking because of him. Many small players are scared of big guns, but now, I think that will change because of this young man. He is not big, but he can do big things on the court, and you will be surprised if you can trust him. I wish him all the best for the rest of his career. For the love of the game. May God bless him.”