Zimbabwe outfoxes  Bokamoso Rebels

Zimbabwe outfoxes Bokamoso Rebels

MASERU – Zimbabwe’s Foxes were crowned 2017 Summer Slam Basketball Charity champions after a thrilling 71-65 win over home favourites Bokamoso Rebels on Sunday evening at the Lehakoe Recreational Centre.
Played in front of a raucous crowd, the final was a toe-to-toe affair and it was Foxes who held their nerve to beat the defending champions Bokamoso and clinch their first Summer Slam title.

It was an exciting end to the annual tournament which attracted teams from as far as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland as well as neighbouring South Africa. For Bokamoso, the loss to Foxes robbed the Lesotho champions of the opportunity to create their own slice of history by retaining the Summer Slam crown. And, speaking after his side’s agonising defeat, Bokamoso coach Fako Masupha said the departure of key players in the off-season was central to their loss in Sunday’s final.

Bokamoso are one of the National Basketball League teams that have been most affected by a policy introduced at the start of the season by the Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA) which says that players who are students must play for their institutions.
For Bokamoso this has meant losing several key players, including their top scorer from last season Napo Mafube who now plies his trade for Lerotholi Polytechnic.

Without Mafube it was obvious Bokamoso missed a go-to scorer when things got tight in the final stages of Sunday’s thrilling finale.
“Another thing is mental strength,” Masupha added.
“We were leading Foxes by 11 points in the first half and in second half it is obvious that the opponents will come and throw everything at you. Foxes came at us and threw everything at us and we failed to have the mental strength to absorb the pressure, to absorb the pain and to keep on pushing.”
On a positive note, the defeat to Foxes gave Masupha an obvious area to focus on.

“We need to work on the mental strength of our players,” the Bokamoso mentor said.
“I am fine with the players’ conditioning,” he added.
“My boys were running (in the final) and I am happy. They had determination, they had energy and there was never a time you could say we were tired and could not keep up.”

“So we need to work on the mental fitness of the boys and that will be brought by having more international exposure. We need to give them more tournaments to gain experience, (in order) for them to be able to protect their lead (in future),” Masupha underlined.
For LBA public relations officer Ratšolo Molupe the Summer Slam’s success illustrated the growth of the event and Lesotho basketball as a whole.
He said this progress was demonstrated by the presence of Foxes who are currently the top side in Zimbabwe.
“Our local teams also put on a good show and they are improving very much because we managed to play a very good team from Zimbabwe,” Molupe said.

“It was not easy to play those (visiting) teams but we learned that we have a very good potential to play at a higher level. We just need exposure,” he continued. “We wish to play such games more often so that local teams get more (international) exposure and experience.”

Summer Slam Basketball Charity Tournament knockout results:

Quarterfinals:
Khubestate 40-55 Travellers
KTA All Stars 41-52 Foxes
Goodfellas 52-44 Lerotholi Polytechnic
Bokamoso Rebels 52-30 Bashana Baheso

Semi-finals:
Bokamoso Rebels 52-49 Goodfellas
Travellers 38-54 Foxes
Finals:
Dolphins 35-61 Phoenix (Ladies)
Bokamoso Rebels 65-71 Foxes (Men)

Nkheli Liphoto

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