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GBL 2008 comes to an end in dramatic style

By on October 6, 2008 in League

When you have a ladies final between the University of Pretoria and the University of Johannesburg, you can expect fireworks but I’m sure very few people predicted overtime and the drama that ensued. The preparations for the finals began in earnest with the hosts waking up early to set up the banners and get the LC de Villiers court at Tuks ready for the action. Sibongile Maswanganye (Tuks player and basketball manager) and Danny Molothane (Tuks men coach) were at the indoor early in the morning making sure the event would go off without a glitch. Before the finals started, we stood for a remixed rendition of the national anthem by a UJ spectator, when we should have waited a little longer for the tape to be ready. The master of ceremonies for the day was Nhlanhla Zikalala who tried to keep the crowd entertained with his running commentaries during the games. UJ made a mockery of home advantage by bringing a bus load of supporter to cheer their teams on. For the men’s final it was University of Johannesburg vs. Vaal University of Technology and this was a game full of drama from the first whistle with various clashes on and off the court (Toka vs Thabo, Thabang vs Bingo, Flosh vs Badibanga …). But before the big match ups, there was the issue of who finished 3rd for the men’s section. VUT ladies finished 3rd by default after Raptors pulled out.

University of Witwatersrand vs. Tshwane University of Technology – 3rd/4th place playoff…

This game started with a physical feel to it from the first whistle. Wits have surprised many with their brand of passing and this game was no different. The two teams were exchanging baskets in the 1st quarter and the only meaningful event to take place during that time was the split lip that Neo Mothiba (TUT 12) suffered. With Neo receiving treatment, the TUT boys started making silly turnovers and missing layups. They still managed to stay in the game mainly through the shooting of Victor Sambo (TUT 9). Wits set the tempo of the game on offense and controlled the boards on both ends of the floor with Luke Sinwell (Wits 12) and Macdonald Shongwe (Wits 11). With a few shocking calls by the referees, the game threatened to get out of hands but sanity prevailed and the half time score was 17 – 24 to Wits.

1st half notes: After returning from some running repairs, Neo Mothiba struggled to get his game going, with Wits double teaming him at every occasion while his teammates wasted the good scoring opportunities created from that situation. The Wits coach, Terry Nxumalo, made the right substitution trying to manage the threat caused by Neo and minimising second chance opportunities by having size advantage in the post.

After the restart, Wits came out of the blocks blazing, and Otsle Rammide (Wits 6) was in the groove, making 4 out of 4 from beyond the arc. Wits were playing some very good defense throughout the game but the standout performance was the job done by Macdonald Shongwe (Wits 11) on TUT’s main threat Neo. The TUT made a run of its own by forcing Wits into turnovers and running fast breaks, with Mdu Mkhonto prominent. Despite their dominance in the post position, Wits were running out of posts in the 4th Quarter, with Wayne Mhlongo (Wits 15) getting fouled out after having a good game in the post. With a few minutes to go, Wits were made to sweat for that final whistle with Neo Mothiba hitting a crucial 3 pointer and going to the line a few times. In the end it wasn’t enough and Wits took 3rd place at the inaugural GBL league. Final score: Wits 69 -TUT 65

University of Pretoria vs. University of Johannesburg – GBL ladies final

UJ started like a house on fire with a 6 – 0 run with Charmaine Amoda (UJ 11) and Makgotso Moloantoa (UJ 7) driving it hard to the hoop. With the experience on their side, there was no panic from Tuks and they rallied to end the 1st Quarter at 14 – 14. After an inspired team talk from Coach Mandla Ngema, UJ came back revitalised and went about punishing Tukkies for failing to get back on defence. With Ellen Moutlwse (UJ 10) pulling the strings at the point guard position, UJ bossed the first half. They were passing the ball better than their opponents and were taking the ball to the basket instead of settling for the usual 3 pointer. Nicki de Villiers, the Tuks player/coach, was having a decent half but the team were still trailing and the frustration was all too evident from those on the court and on the Tuks bench. Requelh Molema (Tuks 9) and Takalani Mfamadi (Tuks 10) were trying to limit the damage by scoring baskets at crucial times. The sound of half time was a welcome relief to some of the Tuks players who were sometimes dragging their feet on defence and UJ seemed to have it under control, leading 29 – 38 at the half.

With the start of the 2nd half, UJ girls went back to their old habits of shoot 3 pointer first, ask later; instead of driving on the Tuks defence. This gave Tuks an opportunity to claw their way back into the game because UJ were taking bad shots. With the introduction of Vuyelwa Mpakanyiswa (Tuks 7) who had a cameo performance of note, Tuks rallied and tied the game at 45 – 45 and the crowd was getting a bit restless.

With 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Tuks led the game 52 – 47 but with only 5 players used during most of the game you began to ask yourself whether they could last the distance. Tuks were in foul trouble with their point guard Requelh fouled out close to the end so some adjustments had to be made. With 1minute left, Lungile Mtsweni (UJ 9) hit a huge 3 pointer to tie the game at 54 – 54, but Tuks countered with 2 free throws from Takalani Mfamadi (Tuks 10) who despite fatigue and injury was still pushing to the end. With only a few seconds left and with Tuks leading by 2 points, Nicki de Villiers (Tuks 14) fouled Ellen (UJ 10) who was making a 3 point attempt. To add to the drama, Ellen couldn’t take the free throws because of injury so up stepped Gomotso Thipe (UJ 12) to take 3 free throws and take the game into overtime or win it. Gomotso only made 1 out of 3 thus sending the game into overtime. With 2 of their key players fouled out, UJ who had been rotating regularly didn’t seem affected by this and wrapped it up for a 1st victory over Tuks in a long time. The Tuks coach, Nicki de Villiers mentioned that they had made too many mistakes down the line, while her counterpart Mandla Ngema felt that they had to grind Tuks starting 5 by running at them and taking the game to them to get them tired. Final score: UP 61 – UJ 62

University of Johannesburg vs. Vaal University of Technology – GBL men final

After watching their ladies team triumph over Tuks, the UJ boys looked like a team on a mission. As if to test the other team, UJ started the game with a 3 – 2 zone defence instead of their usual 2 – 1- 2 zone press. This strategy backfired on them slightly, with VUT taking full advantage of some bad defending to build a sizeable lead on the back of the smart play. Toka Motaung (VUT 8) had a great first half and he capped it off by slamming the ball over 3 UJ defenders that were ball watching. Philani Biyela (VUT 5) was playing well in an unfamiliar role, having to play top on defence and spending a lot of time in the post position on offence. At half time, the score was 40 – 27 to VUT and many of the UJ supporters present were beginning to despair.

After the restart, VUT looked tired while UJ looked refreshed. They came out playing a 1 – 3 – 1 zone press and VUT couldn’t break it. UJ were running uncontested fast breaks, capitalising on turnovers and they quickly reduced the 13 point half time deficit. With Nhlanhla Dlamini having a rare off day, VUT were missing the services of Vusi Radebe to back him up. With about 5 minutes to go, the game got totally out of hands with Flosh Ngwenya (VUT coach) and his players expressing their disagreement with some of the decisions on the court. The referees who have been below standard throughout the season were suddenly thrust in the limelight by making very dodgy calls and missing crucial ones. Flosh and Simon Badinbanga (UJ coach) vented their anger at some rough play that went uncalled and the safety of the players became an issue when spectators also began to get irritated.

Back to the action, Thabo Letsebe (UJ 15) and Lucky Loate (UJ 7) were mixing it up from the 3 point line but the performance of the final has to go Thabang Glass (UJ 4) who did everything on offense and defence to keep his team in the game. With the game suddenly turned on its head, VUT were trailing, looked desperate and the timeouts didn’t seem to have any effect on the players. Instead of going to Toka and Thabang, VUT lost their way and the ball got stuck with the guards for 80% of their possession which led to some frustrations. With a few minutes left that frustration boiled over, Thabang Kgwedi (VUT 9) contested a call made by the referee and started making threatening gestures towards the official. Elbows started swinging, the referees forgot that they were the ones in charge; players and coaches were getting away with some awful scenes on the court. Even the crowd got into it with one or two members getting on the court prematurely; the game had to be restarted with 14seconds left but by then it was a formality. UJ capped off a great day for the University by passing the ball around to waste time and savouring the moment. Final score: UJ 76 – 66 VUT

So the University of Johannesburg basketball program finally gets some rewards for their hard work over the past few years. This might be the start of something special for this program but Vaal University of Technology and the University of Pretoria will come back stronger after doing some much needed introspection.

Congratulations to the all the people involved in making sure that the 2008 GBL season ends on a high note, GBA organisers, the referees, the spectators, the teams and more importantly the players that took part throughout the year. For some teams its back to the drawing board but until next year, expect a bigger and better league…

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There Are 32 Brilliant Comments

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  1. neo says:

    When a team is winning noone sees the need to asses such possibilities. A good example is TUT. Unfortunately because of human nature we are suckjed into thinking that when things are going well why change them.

    Easy games you will win with or without a coach, but the difficult ones when you need to play and also need to coach those are the ones that get away from you. Im in a situation where both the teams that I play for, the coaches are also playing. TUT vs UJ, Pts Heat vs Wits Alumni & Egoli, all those games needed some 1 to think from a coach’s point of view. I think TUKS more than capable of beating UJ hands down but it all boils down to the decisions made on the court and on the bench, you cant make both calls at the same time and expect to have outstanding results.

    Nicky and Sibo have all the knowledge and they showed that when Tuks beat UJ not once but twice in the USSA. Getting a third person, not necessarily a head coach but an assistant, can offer a them a different perspective. Besides its hard to give instructions when you huffing and puffing during a time out….

  2. kim says:

    These are days I wish I was in basketball full-time.

  3. Joe says:

    Neo you just nailed a shooosh there not board involved.

    I am a subsciber to the Japanese philosophy of ‘Kaizen’, this philisophy to most who are involved in management aned quality control is very the ultimate Total Quality Management (TQM) principle. According to Kaizen nothing is ever perfect, as a manager one should always be looking to improve even when things are going right.

    It is through this philosophy that today the a Japanese car manufacterer is the no 1 car seller in America and throughout the world, ie Toyota. This philosophy is totally against the American philosphy of ‘if it ain’t broke dont fix it’. It is through this philisophy that I am constantly looking qualitative ways to improve basketball from all perspectives, playing or administating.

    Therefore, I totally agree with Neo, Tukkies must not wait until they loose ten matches before they realise they need someone not engaged in the battlefield to be able to manage strategy effectively. I have always argued that the reason that Tukkies have been able to dominate is because of the collective brain power that possess on the court, through Nikki, Sibo and Be.

    As the UJ coach noted, they planned to run Tukkies rugged, knowing full well that if Sibo and Nikki get physically challenged this will impact on thier strategic brain advantage of Tukkies. Before the final I warned that if Tukkies wanted to win, they should have sabotaged UJ by ensuring that Melupe does not make it to the games by nook or crook as not only will they have to contend with a very capable Mandla but also Melupe’s brain power.

  4. Molupe Thelejane says:

    There were a number of important intangibles at the GBL Finals. In the 3rd place game Neo was cut and bleeding profusely. He did not make a big deal about it, was patched up and played. No complaining. No threats. Just patch it up and get back into the game. That is my kind of player – my kind of toughness – and he does it all the time. From a national perspective Neo needs to be driving the ball and getting to the basket more as he is a very good finisher and free throw shooter. Also, every good team is built around a good driver, especially if it does not have a great inside player. Let me mention a few names – Dwayne Wade, LeBron, Kobe, Manu, Paul Pierce, Carmelo, Iverson, Chris Paul (even at his size),etc etc – all drivers first. Even Angola – the key to beating Angola, in my mind, is to stop Cipriano’s drives.

    The women’s finals was a game of mental toughness by both teams. The stats below (only to 55-51 as I got caught in the excitement and did not complete them) show that this was not a purist’s game:

    Score 51 55
    Possessions 86 77
    Points per Possession 0.59 0.71
    FG % 42.3% 47.9%
    2 FG % 58.3% 55.6%
    3 FG % 6.3% 25.0%
    FT % 42.9% 30.0%
    OR % 36.0% 21.9%
    to % 27.9% 26.0%

    UJ started strongly (first 3 possessions, 6 points). Tuks did not fold and came back with its own run to take a lead. UJ then went on another run in the second quarter to lead at the half. Third quarter – Tuks first 3 possessions 6 points. UJ’s first 3 possessions, 3 turnovers. Let me mention some of the heroes of the game – in the first 3 quarters Nikki scored 19 points – over 40% of her team’s points to that point. Takalani and Sibo continuously leaked out to create 2 on 1 fast break opportunities. Raquelha’s two huge threes at the beginning of the 4th quarter should have buried UJ. But UJ played through that. Pupsie played tough the whole game – constantly cramping and yet played on and well – again, my kind of toughness. Charmaine kept taking the ball to Tuks and had 11 key points – 3 of those from the free throw line at the end of the game and an important basket to give UJ the lead 56-55 at the end of regulation. Siphokazi helped UJ build an important big lead in the first half, scoring 11 points on 5 out of 6 shooting in the 1st half. Excellent. Lungile’s mental toughness was evident in her making the big 3 to bring the score to 55-54. Up to that point she had taken and missed four 3’s. That’s toughness! Gomotso shot the 3 free throws with confidence and was not afraid of the pressure. Loved it. In general both teams played excellent defenses at crucial times. Mandla and Nikki made some excellent adjustments in the game – timeouts taken, adjustments to defense and some key substitutions.

    In the first half of the men’s final I thought that VUT did a great job of forcing the pace of the game. They pushed the ball, took the ball inside and created lots of wide open outside shots. Toka did a great job driving inside and playing with Thabang K. Philani was shooting more, which was a positive for VUT. Amogelang (when he was in the game) and Thabang Glass (the old Thabang was back!) kept UJ in the game in the first half. They really played well both offensively and defensively. The turnaround in the game came when Nhlanhla had to sit for an extended period of time with foul trouble. At that point UJ was down 10 points. UJ then played the way they should have played the whole game – going for the jugular, increasing the tempo of the game by playing good pressure defense and taking good shots and taking them quickly. Despite Mbulelo having one of his drives blocked, UJ (Thabang and Mbulelo, mainly) kept driving hard to the basket and this led to Lucky and Thabo’s big threes which killed the game.

    Finally, the UJ fans and the few VUT fans made the game fun. A wonderful day at basketball. Lets see what LOP can do in response.

    Molupe Thelejane

  5. Victor says:

    Hey there,

    I believe that every team should keep stats for their games because it would give them a chance to work on their weaknesses that would come up on the sheet.

    The teams could scan and email them to us so that we include them in the articles. I like what UJ assistant coach Molupe is doing in that department and I was pleasantly surprised to see him keep stats for one of the LOP game.

    There are plenty of other teams keeping stats but they remain in the minority.

    Ciao, V

  6. Katlego Malatji says:

    i appreciate the discussion surrounding my last post about a coach at Tuks. i am by no means grilling the team that I love and respect, on the contrary i am saying there is room for this great team to improve and technical assistance is one of the aspects to be considered. Neo put it clearly that you cannot make two decisions of two different natures at once. i take nothing away from tuks as their credentials speak for themselves but i do stick to my initial statement that a permanent technical figure on the bench is very much neccesary

  7. Nhlanhla says:

    Dear Victor, Nthabiseng and everyone.

    it has been one of the tryingyears in our history of basketball. This letter is directly addressed to you.

    On behalf of GBA Marketing I would like to thank you for affording basketball the opportunity to be highlighted on the web. Undoubtedly one of the most important mediums todate.

    I just Hope and wish that we could find a way and further mprove this relationship and make it more viable.