YOUNG basketballer Malakye Cunningham is quick to say whether he’ll be as good a player as his Big V championship-winning dad Bobby.
“No, better,” he says with a wide smile.
Malakye, 8, will make his Warrnambool Seahawks’ major tournament debut this weekend.
He will run out with the club’s under 12 boys’ championship side at the annual Seaside Junior Classic.
Malakye joins his father and older brother Ashaan, 13, in wearing the Seahawks’ jersey.
“I’m pretty pumped,” he said.
Bobby said he was proud of his sons.
Ashaan will play for the Seahawks’ under 16 boys’ development green team at the seaside classic, having started in the under 12 program.
“It is good. I mean, especially for Malakye,” Bobby said.
“Ashaan has had a bit of a taste of it now. As he said, he’s been going right through with his current team.
“But it’s really good for Malakye because he is bottom, bottom-age and I think that in itself, to be able to make the top team, is a pretty good feat for a kid eight years old.
“We’ll see how he goes handling kids who are a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, a little bit faster. It should be interesting this weekend.”
Malakye said his dad had passed on his basketball experience.
“(He tells us) to keep the ball at the top of your head and to keep your dribble alive until you’re ready to pass or shoot,” he said.
The Warrnambool Primary School grade two pupil said he loved basketball “because Dad plays it”.
Bobby said he wanted his sons to choose their own paths.
“I say to my boys ‘don’t play because I played it’, because if I came here 20 years ago I’d probably be playing football (because) I love the game so much. So don’t do it because I did it, do it because you want to do it,” he said.
“I think it’s important for them to know that. I try and reiterate that to them as much as I can.
“If you enjoy basketball, play it. If you enjoy blowing a trumpet, do that.”
At eight, Malakye is considered tall for his age.
He wants to play centre when he’s older and positions on the court become more settled.
“If he’s six feet 10 (208cm) and can handle like a guard, somebody might make me some money one day,” Bobby joked.
“He’s saying centre, I’m saying that’s a bit of a stretch because I will have him doing all of the ball handling drills.”
Ashaan, who also plays football for Emmanuel Hawks, is a shooting guard.
New York-raised Bobby has lived in Australia for 15 years and Ashaan and Malakye were born here.
Both boys have been to visit family in Brooklyn “lots of times”.
“I can’t ever see us going back to live there but to visit, definitely. We try and get back every second year,” Bobby said.
Bobby said Warrnambool basketball was in good shape.
The Port Fairy Pacers under 14 girls’ coach said he expected strong Seahawks and Pacers results this weekend.
“Warrnambool is definitely putting itself on the basketball map, in terms of we can play down here in the country,” he said.
“Instead of playing the same teams all the time, we have a few metro teams coming down as well, so it will be good to see where our kids rank.”