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BNL: Prepare for the Clash of the Titans

By on August 4, 2014 in BNL

The unbeaten record of the Tshwane Suns will be put to the test this Sunday when they take on new foes that have similar ambitions as they do and are also yet to taste the agony of defeat.

This enemy comes in the form of KwaZulu-Natal franchise, Duzi Royals, who are the new kids on the block that have made their presence felt on the Basketball National League (BNL) scene and they are the one team that can pose a true challenge to the title credentials of inaugural league winners the Suns.

The Royals comprise a team with height and size on the front and back court and this has been one of the elements that has seen the KwaZulu-Natal franchise go on a eight match unbeaten run since the start of the season. Suns coach George Makena is aware of the task at hand in trying to topple the Royals – who lead the BNL log – and he will be hard at work during the week concocting a plan to slay this new beast.


Photo by Frennie Shivambu

“It’s going to be difficult: they are huge, they are athletic, it’s not like they are big and slow. They are big and they can run the floor. It’s going to be a huge mountain to climb, but with proper planning we will be able get the result,” said Makena, who was speaking after his team’s 70-33 win over the Free State Warriors on Saturday at the Wembley Arena in Johannesburg.

With his team a game behind the Royals, but still on a seven game unbeaten run, veteran coach Makena seems to have no intention of tinkering with his starting five to counter the potential size mismatches against the KwaZulu-Natal franchise.
“You normally don’t change what is working for you, we will use what we have, make the necessary adjustments, see what they throw at us and adapt, because I think it will be a close game, but I think we can get the result,” said Makena.
Despite them being a new team Makena is aware of the fact that the Royals have no issues of cohesion ahead of this upcoming clash of the titans and believes that the players they have recruited, which include two Americans, Larry Jackson and Corey Stern, will make it a tough battle for the Suns.

“They have the same players that played in this league last year (taken from two different teams: Soweto Panthers and KwaZulu-Natal Marlins), and they have also been reinforced by their two Americans. They look good – it’s not like they are battling to gel. The Royals have already played eight games and by now they know each other well,” Makena said.
One player who is unlikely to feature in this royal battle is Suns captain and small forward Neo Mothiba, who is slowly making his way to recovery from a foot injury that has seen him miss four games. Although Mothiba got a run in the last quarter in victory over the Warriors, scoring five points in a productive six minutes, Makena will not be risking his captain. “He is 60-70% fit, he is probably going to miss the next game because after this game (against the Warriors) he felt slight pain to his old injury. It looks like it’s not properly healed,” said Makena.

The Suns haven’t missed their captain by the look of things and in his absence have managed to put together a solid run of victories. But now they face a team who are also unbeaten and will test the mental fortitude of the Tshwane Suns next Sunday.

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