NewsDay|Former President Robert Mugabe’s son, Robert Junior’s latest call-up to the national basketball team has raised eyebrows, with claims that the South Africa-based player has not been involved in competitive action.
Robert Jnr (pictured), more known in the basketball circles as Tinotenda, was called up to the squad that will be participating in the All-Africa Basketball Championship regional qualifiers to be hosted by Zimbabwe between June 2 and 8.
He is set to join camp on May 27, with other members of the squad already in camp preparing for the regional qualifiers.
Basketball enthusiasts have responded to his call-up, generally expressing surprise considering he is not involved in club basketball either in Zimbabwe or South Africa.
National basketball team coach Addison Chiware claimed that Robert Jnr was actively involved in college basketball in South Africa, but admitted that he did not have the statistics to back his call-up.
Robert Jnr’s basketball career has been supported a lot, especially by his mother, Grace, who helped fund the national team’s activities when her son was involved.
Chiware said Robert Jnr’s call-up did not mean that he would get an automatic entry into the final squad.
“Nobody gets an automatic entry into the national team. We do a lot of work to make sure the player has the right fitness and mental ability. Robert Jnr (Mugabe) is currently at college and he is playing there. We do not have the statistics on how he is performing, but he is actively involved,” he said.
“Robert Jnr will come to Zimbabwe on May 27. We will access him to see what he has for us. He has to have good discipline, good mental ability, strength and participate in hard training,” Chiware said.
“No big names will have an automatic entry, this is sport and we should respect that. He needs to be sharp.”
Zimbabwe played some friendly matches against visiting Wheaston College of the United States on Saturday.
Despite losing, Chiware said they picked up positives from the match.
“We played Wheaston College and the boys put up a good performance. It was an important match as it showed us some weaknesses that need to be fixed before the All Africa Championships,” he said.
“The players learnt a lot from that match and we are now getting ready for the tournament.”
Zimbabwe will be hosting Angola, Mozambique and South Africa.