He wasnt a superstar. he was just a good player. He had a personal trainer; "Willy Steveniers". This man discovered him. He met Mbenga at the bus station and asked him if he could play basketbal. Mbenga said no. But because of his height "steveniers" decided to give it a shot. And ......
Interview with Belgian press:
You are a few months in america now. How is your english going?
I am trying my best. I get individual lessons, but because we are alot on the road i miss some lessons here and there. The best way to learn english is to mingle with the american people. And that works for me. Even though i sleep in the same room as Nowitzki. I teach him French, he teaches me German. (Mbenga Laughs)
With Nowitzki in the same bedroom? What kinda guy is he?
A very modest man. Very freindly, a super pro and especially with his 2.15 m an incredible athlete.
And the american way of life?
I like it. In the first months i got a bit home sick. But phone calls to "Steveniers" and his family in belgium and the presence of one of my older presence here help me a lot. The tryouts and the pressure to be with the 12 best gave me a lot of stress, you know.
You never hided to say you would be with the first 12
"Willy Steveniers" tought me to believe in my own strength, i guess that always helped me.
NBA is fame, money (1.3 million dollar salary) and women. How do you handle that?
Yeah, it looks like many american women want to catch an NBA player. But the club is cautious and warns us for those "dangers". I really dont need those warning, but its good advice for a rookie.
You earn a lot of money. I guess you really need that with 21 brothers and sisters?
Its my duty to help my family in Congo. Thats how the african mind works.
In the meanwhile you became a belgian. How do you feel? Belgian or African?
Both, and not just on paper. I will never forget my roots in Congo. But Belgium has given me so much. If not for them i wouldn t be here. Yes, i want to play for the belgium national team some day.
Are you ever going back to Congo?
Yes next year. With the NBA we are going to visit a few youth camps. I really look forward to that. In august we made a summertour in South Africa with Dallas. That was the first time i was back in Africa. Yes, that did something to me.
Back to the sportive side. Whats your ambition now?
Getting with the first twelve was the first step. In the next months. Getting 15 minutes of playtime.