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Charles Mammie: Standing Tall and Proud

By Paolo Mariano Posted Jul 19th 2013

Playing in his maiden UAAP campaign, UE big man Charles Mammie has been a handful to say the least.

When God showered the world with meekness, Charles Mammie was sleeping. 

If there’s one trait the University of the East (UE) rookie is lacking, it’s definitely not confidence. In fact, most of the time, his overflowing assurance turns into conceit. He gets brash, obnoxious, and in-your-face. On a scale of 1 to 10, his level of self-confidence is probably a 20. 

He pumps his chest after a basket, flexes his biceps after and and-1, hushes the crowd after free throw makes, and pops his jersey after every win. He irritates the hell out of the opposing fans. He gets in the nerves of other players. Coaches, even. Just ask National University’s (NU) assistant coach Vic Ycasiano, who was slapped a one-game suspension for threatening to elbow him. 

The 6-foot-8 behemoth from Sierra Leone didn’t escape the commissioner’s axe though. He was also forced to sit out their game against University of Santo Tomas (UST), depriving fans of his match-up with Karim Abdul, due to his post-game altercation with Adamson University’s Roider Cabrera. 

There’s a thin line between being passionate and over-confident—and Mammie is threading that line. 

He was originally supposed to play for Arellano University in 2011. But midway through the summer leagues, he was banished by head coach Leo Isaac due to his misbehavior. He was recruited by NU, UST, and University of the Philippines before finally settling in Recto.    

“He has a big ego. We deal with him on a daily basis, per game basis, per quarter basis, per minute basis,” said UE head coach Boysie Zamar, who must’ve lost a good amount of hair since Mammie arrived to the Red Warriors camp. “Sana marami pa akong pabrika ng pasensya (I hope I can still muster enough patience).” 

But telling Mammie to tone down his self-confidence is like asking Samson to shave his hair. Being perpetually intense on the court helps him focus. It makes him play well. It makes him feel unstoppable.

“That’s me since Day 1. When I’m intense, it means it’s game time. That’s how I motivate myself,” said Mammie. 

Asked whether he thinks his intensity is a little over the top, he smiled and answered: “There’s more to come.”

The 22-year-old Mammie has a bad stutter. He has difficulty speaking. He’s had it since birth. But that didn’t stop him from excelling in sports, where communication is important. He started playing basketball at nine years old and also picked up football and rugby in high school. 

His speech defect, ironically, also doesn’t seem to prevent him from trash-talking during games. You can see him cajoling his defenders to play rough or teasing them on missed charities. 

“They trash-talk me, so I talk trash back at them. I’m cool with it. It doesn’t bother me. I get pumped up even more,” said Mammie.

Asked what he actually says during heated exchanges, well, let’s just say they have something to do with mothers and female dogs.

But so far, Mammie has walked the talk. He led UE to a huge win over Ateneo de Manila University last Wednesday with a monstrous double-double of 20 points and 23 rebounds, including two free throws with 17.2 seconds left to seal the 72-68 victory. His 23 caroms are the most by any player since UST’s Jervy Cruz snatched the same number in July 2007. He has terrific poise in the paint and changes a lot of opponents’ shots.

“That’s my role, provide toughness, get the rebounds, and be the anchor on defense,” said Mammie, who leads the league in rebounds with an astounding 17.3 RPG.

“The good thing about him is he has confidence. That’s difficult to instill in a player,” said Zamar.

You have to feel for the big men who go up against Mammie. It’s always looks like a chore for them. They have to constantly box him out, duck his wayward elbows, and battle his 260-pound frame. The looks on their faces are of helplessness and frustration.  

Mammie admits he’s extra motivated when he’s duking it out with fellow imports. He cherishes the competition. He feels he has something to prove, being sort of the odd man out. 

“They’re all Cameroonians, (Emmanuel) Mbe, Karim (Abdul), (Ingrid) Sewa, they’re coming after me,” said Mammie in jest.

Speaking of motivation, he has a habit of writing inspirational quotes or phrases in his size 16 shoes, which his mom imports from the United States since he can’t find his size here in the Philippines. In their game against Ateneo, he wrote “The Warriors are back!”

The truth is they’re still getting there. But having two wins in their first five outings is surely a good sign since they only won two games the entire Season 75. With Mammie in the fold, UE has also improved in specific areas. Last year, the Red Warriors were both second to the last in rebounds and points in the paint with 28.9 and 41.6, respectively. This season, they’ve upped their boards to 47.0, fifth in the league, and interior scoring to 34.0, second in the league. 

“You haven’t seen his true game, he still has lots to show. He just needs to control his emotions,” said veteran teammate JM Noble.

Maybe it’s a culture thing. Filipinos are generally modest and reserved. That’s why Mammie’s overzealousness rubs people the wrong way. He’s an easy target. He’s big, he’s from a different country, and he’s a character. Plus, in today’s league, where most players are chummy with each other, his cockiness is somewhat frowned upon. But for him, it’s all part of his competitive nature. Take it or leave it.  

“It’s a game. It’s fine if they hate me. I just ignore them. Positivity at all times. I just try to win,” said Mammie.