After a brief but competitive league season for the Maroon Machine, Maties Basketball turn their attention towards the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament taking place in Johannesburg at Wits University.
Earlier in the month, both our women’s and men’s team competed in the Cape Town Basketball League Knockout tournament where the women were successfully crowned champions and the men narrowly missed out on the Super League honors finishing the tournament as runners up.
Head Coach for Women’s Basketball, Nathaly September admitted that the win gave her team a much needed “boost” as they prepare for USSA that is around the corner. She attributed their win to two senior students [Corinne Moussi and Lerato Ngakane] who took lead and played a crucial role in the win.
“As a coach it feels good because we had a goal and to reach it is a big bonus, all the players played their part. Especially Corinne and Lerato with our Point guard Dineo Fanampe and our Captains Ingrid Tredoux and Jordan Cox,” said the proud Coach.
There will be two editions to USSA Basketball this year, with an exciting return after a three year break during the pandemic. This will include 5×5 [from 2-7 December] and 3×3 [from 8-10 December] tournaments respectively.
Preparations for the tournaments are well underway, Coach September said: “Preparations are going well so far but with exams it is a bit of a struggle, but the ladies are pushing through. It will be our first USSA tournament as a team and I think the ladies are excited and nervous at the same time. We will take it one game at a time and just give it our best shot.”
Head Coach for Men’s Basketball, Masie Ntlali pinpoints one player that will help them reach their goal at USSA. “Our greatest addition to the team currently is Miguel Ferrao, he won USSA with Wits and played at the highest level (Varsity Sport and with the national team). His positive influence on and off the court carries us as a team. The return of our Captain Lutho Skweyiya and Siphiwe Zulu from injury also has boosted the team ahead of the tournament,” he explained.
Although the team only came home with a runners-up medal Coach Ntlali believes that it was a huge achievement for the team noting that key players were missing due to injuries and admits that their confidence is high. “I am pleased with our Knockout League performance, we have a lot of new players who are first years in the senior division and I am hoping we will be able to keep the momentum going into USSA.”
“Our preparations are going well for USSA and we manage what is within our control. Just like everything there are few challenges but it’s a work in progress and that’s what excites you deal with student-athletes (balancing my programme with their academics because they are students first). We are going to the tournament to compete, every team wants to win the championship so the goal is GOLD,” Coach Ntlali concluded.
By Kimara Singh