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BNL 2014: Suns’ Mabiza chosen League MVP

By on September 9, 2014 in BNL
Tichifara Mabiza

Tichifara Mabiza

WHEN Tshwane Suns point guard Tichifara Mabiza was announced as the league’s Most Valuable Player, he was shocked. Amid the celebration of his team’s second league title win, Mabiza who had also been included in the Basketball National League end of season all star team, had a bemused look on his face after he was bestowed with the honour of being South Africa’s best player.

Mabiza by his own admission said he did not have a great second season and he bore much of the brunt of criticism when the Suns struggled offensively during the regular season. The criticism comes from Mabiza’s style of play, as he is more of a facilitator for his teammates rather than a scoring point guard. He prefers to pass the ball rather take a shot, much to the angst of some supporters and analysts. But the Suns point guard has somehow managed to adjust his game to suit the style of the Suns and fits well in their defence oriented philosophy. The Zimbabwe-born Mabiza, who collected eight rebounds, scored seven points and four assists in the final, is one of the best on ball defenders in the league, but statistics will not show that, they will not tell how he suffocated Duzi Royals counterpart Celumusa Khumalo and exchanged defensive duties on guarding Royals shooting guard Corey Stern with team captain Neo Mothiba. Mabiza and his captain restricted Stern one of the best scorers in the game to just four points.

“Shocked, that’s how feel,” said Mabiza after receiving his award after the final at the Wembley Arena in Joburg on Saturday. “I struggled a bit offensively, it was obvious and I actually didn’t expect any of the awards to come my way.”

“I am grateful to my coaches and teammates who were patient with me during my offensive struggles. We went through ups and downs sometimes the team needed me to score and I didn’t, because my mentality is always set guys up first. In the final I tried to take in everything they said and I also wanted to be aggressive early on and change the way the other team was defending so I could create opportunities for the rest of the guys.”

Mabiza credited their opponents the Royals for being worth opponents in the final and welcomed the addition of the Stern and his American compatriot Larry Jackson Jr. to South African basketball and he believes they add quality to the BNL.

“First of all I would like to congratulate the Royals they made it this far (to the final), they didn’t lose this season, they had a marvelous season. They were a tough team to play are against but the two best teams were in the final and it went our way and I am happy for us. Everybody harps on about them bringing Americans to the league, but I think it’s a great thing in terms of developing the league,” said Mabiza.

While his team first style of play has not won him many fans, it has in a big way contributed to a successful title defence for the Suns, who will now participate in the African Club Championship to be hosted in the Ivory Coast next year, a tournament the 28 year-old is looking forward to.

“Our focus is now on the Club Champs, everybody is excited, I believe we have a good chance to compete at that level. I have played in the club champs before and I have seen the kind of competition that is there and I believe we can do it,” said Mabiza.

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