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Fiba Africa Senior Men Zone Six Qualifiers- South Africa vs Zimbabwe

By on January 10, 2011 in News

The South African Men’s national team went into their opening match against Zimbabwe knowing very well that it wasn’t going to be easy. The game tipped off at 16h00 at the HC Devilliers Hall at the University of Pretoria.

South Africa got off to a good start against Zimbabwe in the first quarter finishing up 8 points, 21-13. After a very slow start in the first quarter Zimbabwe came back to win the second quarter by 2 points with a score of 16-14. Zimbabwe came back into the game in the 2nd period after stepping up their effort and intensity on defense. This resulted in 7 steals in the first half alone.

South Africa’s achiles heel was their turnovers after committing 18 turnovers in the first half alone to Zimbabwe’s 14. Zimbabwe had a horrible shooting performance shooting 22% (7 for 31) from the field in the first half compared to South Africa’s 48% (13 for 27). South Africa also dominated the boards with 15 offensive rebounds and 23 rebounds overall compared to Zimbabwe’s 14 total.

The score at half-time had South Africa leading 35-29. South Africa was led by Fhumani Marhanele and Thabang Kgwedi who had 10 and 11 points respectively in the first half. M Simba and S Duncan had 5 points a piece at the half for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s Momentum continued in the 3rd Quarter which they won 21-16 taking the score at the end of the 3rd period to 51-50 in favour of South Africa. In the fourth Quarter South Africa settled down and and won the quarter 19-12 and held on to win the game 70-62. This is despite the fact that South Africa had a further 22 turnovers in the second half. 17 of South Africa’s turnovers were from steals from Zimbabwe who were scrappy and tenacious on defense. The boards were dominated by South Africa who out-rebounded Zimbabwe 41 to 25 with 28 offensive rebounds.

Thabang Kgwedi led South Africa in scoring finishing the game with 15 points, 1 block, 1 assist and 8 rebound in 26 minutes. South africa had a 45% shooting percentage from the field (24 from 53) Zimbabwe was led by C Tawanda’s 15 points, and 2 steals but were let down by their overall team shooting percentage of 33% from the field (17 from 51) and a disappointing shooting percentage of 54% from the free throw line (13 of 24).

South Africa’s Coach Flosh Ngwenya said after the game that “he knew that going into the game that they will be a team that’s scrappy and unco-ordinated but what he didn’t anticipate was South Africa not handling the pressure because he had a few experienced players on the team that have been in this situation and he was disappointed that the team committed 40 turnovers.” Coach Ngwenya says “going into the game against Zambia who have a similar style to Zimbabwe South Africa will be working on how to handle the ball and not turnover and play calmer in practice.”

A potential blow for South Africa was captain Neo Mothiba re-injuring the fracture on his left foot which has come back to haunt him after he first injured it 3 months ago playing  . He will be going for X-rays on Monday but mentioned that this time the foot is not as painful as the last time he was injured. Suprisingly Neo Mothiba played a few minutes of the 4th Quarter with the injury but was fouled out after picking up his 5th foul. Neo Mothiba who has been criticised for playing defense with his hands had 3 fouls at half-time and continues to get into foul trouble when his team needs him the most.

Zimbabwe’s coach Roland Garura attributed the teams slow start to Zimbabwe being a new team with young players who are on the international stage for the first time. Coach Garura is standing in for the head coach who was delayed and didn’t make it to the opening game of the tournament.

Zimbabwe’s next game is on Tuesday the 11th of January in the HC De Villiers Indoor Sports Complex at the University of Pretoria at16:00 against Malawi. South Africa’s next game is against Malawi on Wednesday the 12th of January at 20:00.

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