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USSA Gauteng Welcome Valentine tournament round up

By on February 16, 2009 in League

On Saturday 14 February 2009, the University of Pretoria hosted a Welcome tournament for the institutions to get the ball rolling as far as USSA is concerned for this year. If this was a boxing match to see who the world champion is we would still be fighting now… Most teams seemed rusty and it looked like the holidays just ended with most team showing a lack of cohesion.

With the never ending protests and arguments referees continue to hug the limelight with their dodgy calls that take from the entertainment on offer. With the hope that 2009 was going to be different, the referees often get caught up watching the game instead of refereeing the game. Maybe games should be played without referees in South Africa until they improve their standards because with the effort put in by organizer to run tournaments, the experience is soured by their suspicious and often questionable calls.

Back to the tournament…

On the ladies front, all teams were put in a single pool and played all the teams because Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the University of Witwatersrand ladies pulled out. TUT are currently on strike and their campus is closed until things are resolved while Wits withdrew from the tournament because they don’t have a ladies team this year. That said and done the show went on with the hosts University of Pretoria (Tuks), Central University of Technology (CUT), Vaal University of Technology (VUT), University of Johannesburg (UJ) taking part in the ladies section.Looking at the composition of the teams, you could see that VUT had been busy doing some intense recruiting with their team looking like a SA national team (Requelh Molema, Matlala Mokoko, Zanele Petersen) sprinkled with some of the national players from Zimbabwe and Namibia. Looking at VUT, you could see straight away that they were playing on talent only and that they had not been practicing together. UJ also had some new faces most notable of these Gabisile Ndlangamandla who played for Raptors in the 2008 LOP season and Nthabiseng Mushi who defected from the University of Pretoria. UJ also have a lot of talent but they are in the early stages of the season and the rustiness was evident for all to see. CUT are a new team to the ladies division this year and most of the ladies were still trying to gel with each other. Tuks haven’t added anyone to the team and rather seem to lose something; the drive and hunger wasn’t evident on this performance. The Tuks ladies also just started their basketball season a week ago so they still have to go through the gears and before we start writing them off, let’s remember that they usually save the best for the major tournaments. For their sake let’s hope that it’s the case otherwise 2009 will be a bleak USSA experience for them.

As far as the games are concerned, during the round robin games, UJ were undefeated, VUT only lost to UJ by 4 points, Tuks lost to VUT and UJ and defeated CUT and CUT went home without a win but with plenty of heart. CUT ladies must be commanded by the spirit they showed throughout and that will motivate them to improve in future tournaments. With the top 2 playing in the final, we had VUT vs. UJ, and for once UJ coach Mandla Ngema was in a very relaxed mood. VUT ended up with the victory by a few baskets and with some proper practice and coaching they have the making for a team of the future.

On the men’s front, the competition was divided into 2 pools… UJ came on a scouting experience by bringing their 2nd team instead of their 1st team. The rest of their teams brought their first teams too with some stronger than other in terms of addition to their squads.

Looking at the teams, VUT again went all out to get new players and have got a good group of young players with most of them having gone through the national team programs (Chief, Luyanda, Thabang, Christian to mention a few). UJ had their 2nd team at the tournament and we got to see their upcoming talent on the floor with a few familiar faces coming from Johannesburg high schools. Wits are the dark horses this year; they have a good looking team that shows amazing patience on the court and Terry is doing a great job coaching them. They have plenty of new faces but the core of the team is still there. Tuks have added a few players to their team with a good core of 6 players that can give any opposition a run for their money but their lack of depth will leave them exposed in the long run.

As far as games are concerned, Tuks made it to the semifinal by defeating UJ B and Wits B while VUT also made it by defeating Wits A and Tuks B in their pool games. Tuks were defeated by Wits A in the semifinal while VUT defeated UJ in the other game. So the final was between Wits A and VUT and after the Wits coach was ejected for contesting another dodgy call, VUT who had already defeated Wits in the pool games went on to win the game.

If this tournament is anything to go by, for the ladies it looks like the USSA trophy will go to either UJ or VUT this year with Tuks fighting for a 3rd place but they have enough experience to defend their title so don’t count them out yet. For the men, VUT and Wits look good but it is impossible to judge without seeing what UJ men look like and as far as Tuks go they will have to strength if they want to win the tournament. A big up to Sibongile Maswanganye for organizing this tournament so early in the year and I am sure that it gave most teams a chance to see what they have to work on before the USSA qualifiers and the USSA tournament that will be hosted at the University of Pretoria.

Article by Victor Shakineza

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