A MAN OF HIS WORD – Basketball athlete Daniel Wenas sits down with DAMAN to share some insight into his sport’s community
Several months ago, during the 18th Asian Games Invitation Tournament held at Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta, Indonesia’s men’s national team defeated India—one of Asia’s strongest teams—and were crowned champions. A notable standout at the tournament was Daniel Wenas, the shooting guard from Pelita Jaya Basketball Club.
“Looking back, I think this is the first time I wore the Indonesian basketball jersey in Jakarta, in front of many Indonesians that came to support us. On top of that, singing our national anthem while wearing this jersey is also one of the proudest moments in my life,” Wenas recalls. “Before this, I wore it when I was a kid during the FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship and ASEAN University Games in Singapore.”
Before this invitation tournament, Wenas brought his team to the final of IBL (Indonesian Basketball League) 2017 and won the title with them after a hard-fought game against Satria Muda Pertamina. “It was one of my favorite games so far,” Wenas points out. “Aside from that, it also showed all the haters what I’m capable of in the field,” he adds, referring to a number of particularly harsh critiques thrown at him on social media.
Actually, since he is a successful basketball player and thus a public figure, it’s no surprise that Wenas has plenty of haters. “Sometimes I wonder, what’s wrong with me? What did I do to get a lot of hate like this,” he asks. “But, the more I think about it, it’s not good for me. Right now my mentality and mindset is that I want to make everyone who support me happy. I’m playing for my family. I’m playing for the people that love and care about me. I’m going to use this to motivate me every single day.”
Wenas also wanted this kind of mentality to become more prevalent in Indonesia’s basketball community. “As a basketball league, we are still growing. We don’t need the negative vibes from you [haters],” he points out. “What we need is a lot of support. For the players, for the clubs. We need a lot of it.” He also touched on the league’s growing recognition: “With a lot of foreign players competing in the league, with a foreign referee for last year’s final, this is defintely proof that we are already in a good direction.”
As our conversation comes to a close, Wenas shares a couple of pointers for young talents who might be considering basketball as a career path. “Never stop growing and never stop learning,” he elaborates. “That was the best advice that I remember the most and I want to pass this advice to a lot of young players wherever they are. And also, you have to have consistency. Because right now, being consistent is one of the key aspects in order to become a great basketball player. Even if today you make 25 points, or make a triple-double, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get the same number tomorrow. So, consistency is the key. Aside from that, you also have to stay motivated, you have to stay hungry for more and you have to stay focused.”
When asked if he himself is still learning, Wenas doesn’t hesitate: “Definitely. Why? Because I need to know about my weaknesses and I need to improve. People say that I’m a shooter, but this doesn’t mean that the learning process has to stop at just shooting. There are a lot of things that needs to be learned and like I said earlier, never stop growing!”
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