France-based Zimbabwe basketball star Vitalis Chikoko has been named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) after inspiring his side Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez to their fourth French Cup title and the first since 2007 on Saturday.
The 31-year-old centre was the star of the show with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and five blocks as Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez powered to a 95-86 win against Strasbourg in the final at the Paris-Bercy Hall in Paris on Saturday.
His brilliant individual display was recognised after the final by being presented with the MVP title.
“We wanted to win for all the people who took the train to come and support us,” he said on the courtside with his son in his arms.
The victory in the final and the individual recognition was more special for Chikokoas it vindicates his decision to return to Élan Béarnais Pau-Orthez.
Chikoko had his first stint at the club from 2016 to 2019 before leaving for Metropolitans 92, where he spent two seasons from 2019 to 2021.
After retracing his footsteps back to Pau, the Zimbabwean star says he has been impressed by the new owners of the nine-time French League Championship winners.
“The new owners know basketball very well. They have experience in the NBA and it’s starting to show. They push us and communicate a lot. Today we showed that we can win. If we continue, I have the impression that everything is possible. If we play like this no one can stop us,” he said.
After the French Cup success, Chikoko says he still has the energy to inspire another good run for the club in the league race, where they are on course to reach the French the LNB Pro A playoffs.
“I’m in a shape I haven’t had in years. I can run, jump, I’m fit,” he said.
The 2,08m tall Chikoko is widely acknowledged as one of the top players in the French Jeep Elite ProA.
Chikoko has earned three successive All-Star nominations in the last three seasons while also being a serious contender for the Jeep Elite ProA Most Valuable Player (MVP) to underline his status as one of the big stars of the French top division.
The Zimbabwe national team star has been based in Europe since 2011 when he moved to German club BG Goettingen.
After one season with Goettingen, Chikoko went to TBB Trierbefore his journey led him to Italy with Reggio Emilia and Verona.
He returned to Germany with FC Bayern Munich before moving to France in 2016 to join Pau-Orthez, where he is now enjoying a second dance.
— EBPLO (@EBPLO) April 23, 2022