LPU's Nzeusseu recalls time with camp teammate Joel Embiid
Anton Roxas on Nov 12, 2018 12:41 PM
Embiid (R) NBAE via Getty Images
Once upon a time, Mike Harry Nzeusseu of LPU and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers were on the same team. They both learned how to play the game at a basketball camp in Cameroon known as Kossangue Academy.
“I’ve known Joel since he was 15. When I met him, he was just learning how to play basketball. He started from scratch. Zero. He was learning how to shoot and how to pass. He stayed with us for three or four months before going to the States. But, he was already 6’10” back then,” recalls Nzeusseu.
The mission of Kossangue Academy is to help young athletes in Africa gain scholarships in the United States. Other familiar names who are products of Kossague Academy are current UST Growling Tiger Steve Akomo, and former LPU Pirate, Victor Nguidjol. It was actually Nguidjol who influenced Nzeusseu to play for LPU.
Nzeusseu first arrived in the Philippines back in 2012. He initially went to Cebu and played for the University of the Visayas where he helped the Green Lancers win the 2013 CESAFI Championship. After that, he transferred to Manila and enrolled in LPU upon the advice of his fellow countryman.
“Victor told me to come to LPU even though it’s a small team. He said I would feel at home here because of their belief that, ‘Together, they can achieve bigger things.’”
Unfortunately, Nguidjol and Nzeusseu were never able to reunite and play together as Pirates in the NCAA. Nguidjol found his way to the United States and is currently training to join the NBA G-League.
For Nzeusseu, it brings him a lot of pride and joy when he learns about how far he and his peers have come. To him, success has a deeper meaning that goes beyond the game.
“For me, it’s not much about playing basketball. It’s more about representing the country in a good way. So, every time I have the chance to see them and talk to them, I like to hear that they’re doing good and are humble, and not like Joel now,” joked Nzeusseu.
“Before, he [Embiid] was a very quiet person. He was very shy, not talking much until he went to the States. I don’t know what he learned there,” added Nzeusseu with a laugh.
LPU’s 6’6” center has achieved quite a lot in his six years in the Philippines. And even though his first name, “Mike Harry” was influenced by American culture, Nzeussseu loves the Philippines with all his heart. Last year, he married his Filipina girlfriend, Jill Gonzales and even has a favorite Pinoy delicacy: Tugeugarao City’s famous Pancit Batil-Patung.
It’s also safe to say that he has adjusted well to the way the game is played in this part of the world.
“It’s a different ball game back home because everybody plays his normal position. Unlike here, I had to become a center. Back home, I played guard. 2-3. Victor was 3-4. Akomo, same thing. Only Joel was 5. The vision of our Coach was everybody had to be able to dribble the ball and get involved.”
Now 23-years-old, Nzeusseu is hoping to be able to represent his country internationally one day.
“Hopefully. I’ve been talking to some people there but I have to focus on the Finals here in the NCAA.”
In his third season with LPU, Nzeusseu averaged 13.7 PPG and 9.7 RPG in the elimination round. He registered his 10th double-double of the tournament, tallying 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Pirates in Game 1 of the NCAA Season 94 Finals last Tuesday.
Game 2 is on Monday, November 12, 2018, 4:00 P.M. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.