NELSON DIRENG africabasket.com
BDF V and Troopers stand between Police and ultimate glory in the national basketball championships after the semi-finals were concluded on Wednesday. The Police are hoping for a clean sweep after its two sides reached the men and women finals to be played this weekend. In the men's final, Police will meet Troopers while in the women competition, they will pit their wits against BDF V.
In the semis on Wednesday night, Troopers dismissed bitter rivals, Spartans 77-65 at the University of Botswana (UB) basketball courts. The game was a tie-breaker after the teams were deadlocked following weekend matches. As expected, the game between the long-time rivals was closely contested and could have gone either way.
In the first quarter, Troopers seemed unsettled as Spartans dominated proceedings. Both sides committed many mistakes and fouls but Spartans emerged tops with Troopers missing several free throws throughout the quarter. Spartans exploited opportunities that came their way to finish the first quarter with a significant lead of 24-16. Spartans, however, celebrated victory a bit too early going into the second round.
The more experienced Troopers knew the game was far from over as they were focused in the second quarter. They regrouped and dominated the quarter, which had fewer goals.They launched an attack that helped them close in on Spartans and take a 38-35 lead.The third quarter was another close affair with Troopers taking it 55-53.
The fourth quarter was an intense test of character as some players started cracking under pressure.The youthful Spartans, eager for a win became disorganised and selfish and Troopers' experience again came into play as they were a more focused side. Although they missed several chances, they were able to capitalise on mistakes by Spartans.
Towards the end of the game, Spartans' players, Moelwa Sikwila and Mothusi Thipe, collided in what later proved to be a serious acccident. Both players were forced to leave the field and a few seconds later, the referee blew the whistle to signal the end of the game.Spartans' captain, Sylvester Noke, said they lost to an experienced side. He said Troopers have remained national champions over the years due to their experience. He said that unlike Troopers, their team is made up of youthful players, who are being nurtured.
'Out of 12 Troopers' players, nine play for the national team while half of our team consists of youthful players who are either at school or fresh from school,' he said. He said that Troopers realised this weakness and exploited it. Noke, however, said they expect to perform better next season. He said the young players now have another year of experience and this will work to their advantage next year.
He said that this season was not their best as they lost easy games and points due to failure to honour some games in the north. 'It is a pity we had a bad season because rightfully, it should have been us meeting Troopers in the finals,' he said. Troopers' coach, Thomas Raglin said he was impressed with his team's performance despite the frequent mistakes and missed chances.
He said that the most important thing is that they followed the game plan. 'The fundamentals of winning in any basketball game are to defend and stay focused on protecting the ball,' he said. He said it is also essential to make a lot of free throws and rebounds. Raglin said Troopers have good offensive players and Spartans were tough opposition although their poor defence cost them the game. 'The other thing I have taught my players is not to worry about calls from referees because this sometimes distracts them,' he said.
Wednesday Line Up
Coach - Roy Sikwila
Starters - Robert Mosalakatane (Point Guard), Sylvester Noke (Captain-Shooting Guard), Mothusi Thipe (Small Guard), Peter Ubakar (Centre), Clive Phiri (Forward).
Substitutes - Keone Pheto, Moelwa Sikwila, Kgalemang Fisher, Churchhill Barrows, Sammy Bareka, Ben Mwaagabbwe and Thabang Ncube.
Coach - Thomas Raglin
Starters - Mothusi Phokoje (Captain-Forward), Ratanang Tsayang ( Shooting Guard), Michael Banda (Point Guard), Pilane Ncube (Centre), Mmoloki Moilwa (Forward).Substitutes - Mufaro Moyo, Sechaba Sechaba, Percy Letsholo, Basimane Tau, Sebebe Gobela, Billy Modisang and Thebe Selato.