LILONGWE—Chikondi Mwendera, Weluzani Chingota and Victor Jere used their experience to grind out a Southern Zone Basketball League (Sozobal) 77-68 victory against a resilient Central Zone Basketball League (Cezobal) team in Saturday's Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) All Stars game, considered as one of the most competitive season engagement.
Sozobal flowed in their fast break offensive game to find shooting guards Richard Chavula and Hope Chisamanga, who would become the game's Most Valuable Player (MVP), took no prisoners as they both notched double-digit point totals, thanks to penetrative drive-ins and perimeter shooting.
Cezobal’s tenacious point guard Italian national Diego Rangemi, the eventual winner of the three-pointer shoot out competition, was exciting on the spalding ball. Drawing parallels with the legendary John Stockton of the great Utah Jazz, he dished passes and dropped three pointers with precision, sending the fully-packed ABC Macon Gym roaring in excitement.
Daud Suleman showed a few flashes of his old self contributing a significant third quarter three-pointer on top of his 12 points and notably attempting a slum dunk.
Cezobal pressed full court effectively but let up in the fourth quarter. Slum dunk contest winner Vince Mbeule drew defensive attention. He was a handful to deal with on the boards, finishing the evening with eight re-bounds.
The tempo of the game remained high as players for the first time in the annual tournament observed the 24-second shot clock violation rule.
Basketball faithful, however, survived intermittent power supply which interrupted the game.
Basmal vice general secretary Mayeso Chirwa, who led the organising committee, was pleased with the tournament.
"Without outside funding we had to unconventionally make this tournament happen," he told Maravipost.com. "Members of the committee used personal resources to stage the games; we had to think outside the box."
Chirwa also thanked the fans for agreeing to a K200 gate fee.
"They contributed to meeting costs of making this tournament a success, they love the game and there are no better terms of making that clear," he said.
All the three participating teams were decorated with medals while the MVP and the winning team received trophies. The MVP and the two skill challenge contest winners went home with K5, 000 each.
Three fans left the gym with FIBA basketballs won in a Basmal raffle prize draw.
In the day's earlier fixtures an improving Northern Zone Basketball League lost 91-63 to Cezobal and 77-58 to Sozobal.
The tourney was graced by former City Rockets player and celebrated radio personality Davies Mussa, aka Ada D.E. who accepted the honour of handing out medals to the runner up team.
An Area 47 resident Suzgo Banda, who watched the final game, wondered whether the talent he saw was the same that lost all games at the Afrobasket Tournament in South Africa only a few weeks ago.
"Tell me it's a different team, surely these boys can beat Zambia and Zimbabwe any day," he said.
Earlier, Basmal president Oscar Kanjala, officials, zone representatives, coaches and players donated a basketball and food items to Area 23's Children with Hope and Destiny (CHD) which has 28 children.
"We thought basketball players meet on the court and it ends there, we are very humbled with this gesture," said CHD's head Samuel Kayuni.--maravipost