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BNL 2014: Tshwane Suns wrap it up in style

By on September 8, 2014 in BNL

THE Tshwane Suns fought the good fight and they prevailed. They will have woken up yesterday with a sense of accomplishment, after proving that they have the stuff champions are made of after making a successful defence of their Basketball National League (BNL) title the previous evening against the much vaunted Duzi Royals.

After enduring heavy criticism throughout the regular season for their defensive brand of basketball and doubt being cast about their ability to return the trophy to the capital city, the Suns will now rest easy knowing that for another year they have silenced the naysayers, when they again left the Wembley Arena in Joburg with the BNL title in tow, for a second year in a row.

It was through dogged determination, sheer tenacity and sticking to their ethos of defensive intensity that the Suns humbled a team that had arrived on the basketball scene to much hype and fanfare after recruiting some of best local players and importing two Americans – Corey Stern and Larry Jackson Jr. – in their failed attempt to usurp the title from Suns’ grasp. And as if to give credence to their title ambitions the Royals had felled all before them finishing the regular season with an 11-0 record. The Suns came into the playoffs with a 10-1 record. Both teams also had a tough passage to the final on Friday night with the Royals beating the Egoli Magic 74-72, while Suns needed an overtime victory (76-71) over the Soweto Panthers.

In final the Suns started strong and finished strong and after they had taken a 14-3 at the end of the the first quarter and never looked back, they contested every loose ball in defence, crowded out the Royals’ big men at the low post and offensively they posted up well making every shot taken from the mid-range and from behind the three point arc count.

Suns centre Gedeon Mulumba grabbed 13 rebounds, Suns captain Neo Mothiba scored 13 points, while Allen Danga, Dumisane Moyo and Mlungisi Shongwe contributed 10 points each.

Picture by Frennie Shivambu

Tshwane Suns: BNL 2014 Champs

“It was not easy those guys (Royals) were determined, they had not lost a single game the entire season but they lost here in the final. My boys played hard they played with passion and they were determined to cause an upset and with the right decisions and the execution of the fundamentals we scraped through we won by 15 points. It’s unbelievable, said victorious Suns coach George Makena of his team’s 65-50 win over the glamour team of the BNL. “They can bring whoever they want but they came up against a determined team that plays hard on defence, a team that plays with passion, a team that was determined not to lose and tonight we that was on display.”

With their first objective now achieved the Suns can now turn their attention to their second one which is to compete with the best in Africa, under the auspices of the Fiba African Club Championship which will be hosted in the Ivory Coast next year.

“It is going to be difficult out there, but we are the champions here (South Africa), not only once but twice. We are going to prepare well and we are going to make sure that we represent the country well,” said  the veteran coach, who hinted that they will look to reinforce the squad for their African campaign.

“I am not happy with the squad that we have, I am not sure what the rules are but if we can bring two or three guys from the other teams just to beef us up it will be great. But first we will look into the rules first because we are guided by that.”

Team captain and small forward Neo Mothiba, who had missed most of the season with a stress fracture on his right foot paid homage to his teammates for the job they had done in his absence during the regular season, which culminated in them making the playoffs and finals.

“We are ecstatic, after everybody had been saying Duzi this, Duzi that, we just came together and rallied like a true championship team. This has shown me that my teammates believe in each other they were able to get through the regular season without me. I came back and whenever I struggled they picked me up and when they struggled I pick up everyone. The unity in this team is tremendous it’s a great bunch of guys, we love each other and we are always together and we had one common goal which was to play the last game of the season,” said Mothiba who scored 13 points in the final.

Mothiba also looks forward to competing with some of the best players in Africa and being the experienced campaigner in international basketball, he will let his teammates know about what it takes to rub shoulder with some of best in basketball on the continent.

“It’s a beautiful thing now we get to test ourselves against other African countries like Mozambique and Angola. It will be a learning curve, I have played in the club championships before but for the new guys it will be an invaluable experience. Going into the continent is a different story, here (South Africa) it’s all about hype when you go there it’s all about basketball,” said

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