CVCC alum Wembi continues hoops journey in Estonia

Photo by Marin Sušić
Photo by Marin Sušić

HICKORY, N.C. — Former Catawba Valley Community College men's basketball player Emmanuel "Manny" Wembi is continuing his professional basketball journey in Europe.

After a successful season in the Croatian Premier league, Wembi will be playing this season for Tallinna Kalev/TLU in the top division in Estonia.

Wembi's latest professional basketball opportunity came about thanks to friend Brandis Raley-Ross and agent Vedran Pavlicevic.

"Brandis was able to land a deal with (Tallinna Kalev/TLU), and he was about to negotiate a package deal where we go play there together," Wembi said. "This season, I have a mindset of continuing to prove my worth and name throughout the European stage. I go into every practice and game wanting to improve my skills and abilities so I can perform at the highest level and prove my name again like I did in Croatia, but this time even more."

Preparing for his latest basketball opportunity hasn't been easy for Wembi, especially given the global climate with COVID-19, but Wembi has made the most of the situation and continuing to prepare himself mentally and physically.

"(Coronavirus) affected my training a little bit, but not much," Wembi said. "I was blessed enough to still be able to be in the gym and training every day. The group of guys I train with on a daily basis were training outside doing resistance band workouts and cardio until we were fortunate enough to have a gym to go to everyday for the past two to three months."

Last season, Wembi averaged 10.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 21 games for his Premier League team — KK Alkar.

The 6-foot-8, 224-pound post player earned Center of the Year honors from Eurobasket.com in its 2020 All-Croatian Premier League Awards and was also named second Team All-League, a member of the All-Imports Team and also selected to the All-Defensive Team

Now, Wembi will be playing a regular season for Tallinna Kalev that starts in October and continues through April. The postseason for the league takes place in April through May.

He will also be a part of a 15-team league as opposed to the 12-team league he played in during his time in Croatia.

"There will be more teams to play and a higher level of competition," he said. "It's totally different this year. I'm coming in with a mentally of dominating the whole league and country. I already dominated in Croatia and made a name for myself there, but now I need to dominate in another country and league. I need to prove that I can do what I did in Croatia again and more so I can solidify myself as a respected pro in Europe."

Wembi departed on a flight Tuesday morning for Estonia, embarking on the next step in his professional basketball journey.

"The feeling is honestly super amazing," he said. "To be able to play with a teammate like Brandis, who is not only someone I know, but is like a family member to me — that right there is exciting alone. The chemistry is already there because we train together. I ultimately just feel blessed and happy to have this opportunity knowing how hard I've worked for this dream of mine."