HARARE (AfroBasket 2015) - Vitalis Chikoko has become a well known name playing professionally both in Germany and Italy, where he had recent breakout seasons, but it is on Africa's biggest stage that he hopes to make history with his Zimbabwe national team.
The 24-year-old, who last represented his country during the 2011 AfroBasket qualifiers, is the latest addition to Zimbabwe's preliminary squad, which has been working under head coach Ellery Pinkerton since June in Harare, Zimbabwe.
And he vows to prove skeptics wrong.
"The Quarter-Finals is our target this year," the 2.09m power forward told FIBA.com.
This year's AfroBasket will take place in the Tunisian cities of Nabeul and Tunis with Zimbabwe taking on Algeria, Cape Verde and Cote d'Ivoire in Group D.
We are going to need to run the floor, shoot the ball well and compete. It’s going to be all about team work. - Chikoko
Despite his enthusiasm about the prospect of playing for his country again, Chikoko - who helped Pallacanestro Reggiana reach the final in Italy's top flight Lega Basket Serie A - understands that there is room for improvement.
"We've got a small team comparing to other teams, and we don't have big names on our roster. But we are going to Tunisia to show that we can play basketball," he offered.
However, facing ambitious teams such as Cape Verde as well former African champions Cote d'Ivoire will require a lot of effort from the left-handed Chikoko, who has built a reputation of attacking and defending the rim with tremendous ferocity.
That's why he has been trying to persuade American-Zimbabwean Julian Mavunga to follow him in strengthening their national team roster.
"He is talking to his agent about coming to play for us, and hopefully he will join us very soon," Chikoko said.
Wilson Juma, a London-based point-guard, is also expected to join Pinkerton's squad this week.
Asked how he could make a difference for Zimbabwe, Chikoko replied: "First of all, it means everything to me to be able to represent my country again."
I am hoping to play as hard for my national team as I do with my club in Italy or elsewhere. - Chikoko
"[Qualifying for AfroBasket] is a big achievement for Zimbabwe basketball. Now, we just need to win games in Tunisia and continue to develop basketball in our country."
Being a left-handed makes Chikoko tough to defend.
"It is a big advantage for me because most guys are not used to defending a left-handed player, but I can also move to the right also," he said.
Chikoko started playing basketball when he was 11 years old in his native Harare. But in 2012 he had a life-change opportunity when he moved to Germany where he played for BG Gottinga and TTB Trier in the country's top league.
This past March, he accepted an offer from the Italians Pallacanestro Reggiana.
In his words it was a great season for the team, but losing in Game 7 of the finals against Sassari left him with a sense of unfinished business.
"We wanted to win the whole thing, but it didn't work that way," he said.
"I am hoping to return to the team next season, and hopefully we'll do a lot better. As a team we have a great brotherhood spirit, and this should help us next season."
Zimbabwe will open their AfroBasket campaign on 20 August against Algeria in Nabeul.