Fokothi chase  first title

Fokothi chase first title

Maseru – As is normally the case this time of the year, the National Basketball League (NBL) finals are taking centre stage and usually it’s the usual suspects involved. KTA All-Stars, Bashana Baheso and Bokamoso South in recent years have been the habitual names in the final showdown for Lesotho’s basketball crown but this year there is a new contender – Lerotholi Polytechnic. And they are making noise, too.

Fokothi are tied 1-1 with the fancied Lichocha Shooting Rifles in the best-of-five NBL finals which started last weekend and they are in with a loud shout of winning their first-ever national title. More impressively, this is the first time Lerotholi are in the big dance and head coach Tumelo Mara says their hot streak is down to the hard work his charges put in during the arduous seven-month long regular league season.

“From the beginning of the season we have worked hard together as a team, on and off the field, and we are blessed with players who understand the meaning of team work,” Mara said. “As a team we are united and our fans have been motivating us a lot on campus,” he added. “They have given us confidence that we are the best so we must work hard so that we do not disappoint our fans.” Lerotholi have also shown great fortitude.

In the semi-finals of the NBL playoffs Fokothi showed real guts to beat the juggernaut that is KTA All-Stars, champions in 2016 and 2014. And they have already showed the same fighting spirit in these NBL finals. In Game 1 Lerotholi cruelly lost 77-75 in overtime but they recovered to the win the second game convincingly, 72-64. “Lichocha defeated us in Game 1 because they had momentum from their semi-finals win over Bokamoso,” Mara said.

“That (Game 1) loss served as a wakeup call and then we defeated them without having to go to overtime like they did.” And, according to Mara, Lerotholi’s team bond can take them all the way to the NBL title. “I think the fact that we are living in the same environment made us have a strong bond and relationship,” Mara said. Fokothi and Lichocha resume their NBL finals battle this weekend at Lehakoe Recreational Centre. The next few weeks will tell if that togetherness can make Lerotholi Lesotho’s basketball champions for 2018.

Nkheli Liphoto

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