South Africa's basketball community

SA team journeys into the lions den

By on April 23, 2009 in FanZone

The first 4 days of the SA men national team trip for the qualifiers to the African Championship are covered as word documents that you can download and read. The last day amd last game is described in depth by Kimathi.

SA trip day 1

SA trip day 2

SA trip day 3

SA trip day 4

SA vs Mozambique (Game 2)

Day before the Final game

We went out to watch the Zimbabwe vs Mozambique game. It was pretty clear that this game was just a game played because they had to…I for one was hoping that Zim could spring a surprise so that we wouldn’t have to worry about Moz anymore because they would’ve have lost 2 games. The game was very boring as Zim played Zone almost the whole first half.Seeing that we wanted to scout the Moz plays etc, Zim were killing us cos there is no way that we were going to play zone AGAIN.

Eventually Zim played their Man Defense and by that time I was almost asleep, the only thing keeping me awake was the difficulty that Moz had with breaking the zone. Moz won the game but you could see that they were not happy and thus ADVANTAGE SA.

Mind GamesI have watched many sports films were teams play mental games and this was beginning to be a MOVIE on its own. As I go outside I am informed that the game has been moved to 8h45pm.This is to make sure that the local TV broadcasts the game LIVE. We decide to play along and inform the officials that WE WON’T play the game at that time and rather play it at the 7pm that was agreed upon in our first management meeting. BasketballSA joins the party and refuses as well…..ADVANTAGE SA.

The hotel (lodge) where we stayed had lots of Basketball fans as workers. One of the number 1 supporters of the Moz team was the chief supervisor in the kitchen and we had already received the go ahead to eat out on the Friday night and took the guys to debonair were they munched on Pizza’s. This was not welcomed by the organizing committee and an angry sms was sent to the Head of Delegation. ADVANTAGE SA.

Game Day

I woke up in the morning with my stomach full of butterflies. Not really but it clearly felt like it. Myself and Coach Thierry Kita had watched and scouted ALL Moz plays and we had to identify how they were getting all these back door alley-hoops. We went through the tape like 4 times before heading to a light training session. There we informed the players of ALL the plays and went through how to attack the box and 1 against Nhlanhla. We locked ourselves in the hall so that no intruders could come in. By the time Moz came to have their session all doors were locked, this frustrated the hell out of Moz and as we were exiting the hall Moz were trying to use the backdoor. Frustration was written all over their faces. ADVANTAGE SA.

As we got ready for the game one could feel that the time had come and we were hoping for a win which would send us to Libya. This was the biggest day in this competition and the vibe around the stadium was no different. For a sport considered to be a ‘YO, MY MAN’ sport one was actually impressed at the humbleness of the people. Vendors were a constant and ordinary citizens were the order of the day. TV cameras were abuzz once more. We had about a 50 soldier’s brass band. GAME ON.

1st Quarter and 2nd Quarter

The game started real tight with either team not wanting to lose grip of the game. This is a game that would ultimately decide who goes to Libya. All the aspects that we had talked about were being executed by the players. Neo was being very efficient especially when having to play the point position when Nhlanhla was once again being denied the ball. The team kept playing well but we were waiting for Nyaks to come to the party. We kept Moz of the boards whilst being able to get easy baskets. The team went into halftime with a 5 point lead.

3rd Quarter and 4th Quarter

These quarters were marred by the worst DELIBERATE biased referring that I have ever seen in my life. One had to be there to understand the extreme nature of this. The players still continued to play but Moz started hitting 3 pointers like they were layups (make that right hand lay-ups). Their number 6 was getting some good dribble penetrations into the zone. Thabo was our key Go to guy and he was getting shots and drives that you just don’t know how he was even getting there in the first place. Ultimately we lost the game 81-67. During this whole time, we had to fight with the table officials who INTENTIONALY were running the clock down when the team was making a comeback. The Zonal President had to go and plead with the officials to STOP it. We had Charles Foster and Zanele Papa intervening in numerous ILLEGAL tactics with the clock, ref decision etc. This was the WORST LOSS of my life and the most PAINFUL one because that team didn’t deserve to beat us.

Honourable Mentions

Nhlanhla and Neo performed extremely well during this tournament. They constantly got key plays going when the team really needed it. They found ways in rallying the team forward when you would expect ordinary men to just give up. The team was strong in all this madness and never stop fighting even though the result was a certainty. THEY WERE SOLDIERS and I was immensely proud of them.

Coach Kita did a great job and was honoured once more to work with a great basketball mind such as his. I think that BasketballSA did the BEST that any player/coach could ask for. They supported this team through thick and thin. When things were going well or not they continued to seek avenues in which they could contribute in ensuring that Mzansi qualified. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Pss(V)….In the whole fighting that happended during this game,I lost the stats.(lol)

Mozambique took the first place with 7 points (3 victories and 1 defeat) followed by South Africa with 7 points also (3 victories and 1 defeat) while Zimbabwe ended at the bottom place (third) with 4 points (4 defeats).


I didn’t have the energy to write the last day of the Mozambique qualifiers due a number of factors but more importantly because WE LOST. Well I decided to be a good sport and decided to write it anyway…..At least I owe it to the mybasketball team to finish the story……..

Mybasketball spoke to Neo Mothiba, the SA captain after they came back from Mozambique. Neo felt that the team needed more time to prepare for such an occasion; and that the numerous injuries that they had going into the 2nd camp in Mandeville didn’t help with the continuity from the 1st camp. Logistically, BSA did a great job from start to finish. Players struggled to acclimatise during the first game against Zimbabwe and they were sluggish. Asked if he was affected by the home crowd, he said: “You mustn’t let them get to you, the earlier you shut them down the better.” But he acknowledged that some of the players were affected. Asked about the refereeing, he said that at one stage the referees kept reminding the players that they were going to lose the deciding game against Mozambique. It felt like a set up.

My thanks go out to Kimathi and Neo for their contribution and their insight into the events in Mozambique. Hopefully we learn from the adventure and bring back the win next time.

Article by Kimathi Toboti and edited by Victor Shakineza

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