Tuks 1 men’s basketball team lost game one of a three-game series for the Gauteng University Basketball League (GUBL) title against defending champions Vaal University. The match, played at Wits University, ended 79-64 in favour of Vaal.

Despite being outnumbered, Tuks got off to a great start as they went on a 13-2 run in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Tuks played good defence inside, denying the men of Vaal an opportunity to shoot. Vaal was forced to play an unfamiliar shooting game and Tuks kept the pressure going on offence and managed to end the opening quarter leading by 17-10.

In the second quarter nine of Vaal’s 13 points came from beyond the arch and their consistent shooting was starting to stretch Tuks’s defensive game. The match took a drastic turn in the last two minutes of the half: Tuks had a healthy double-digit lead over their opponents but poor ball possession, fouls and outstanding shooting from Vaal saw them make a fantastic late quarter come back to cut down the score from a healthy 26-15 to 33 all. A last second in-bound play saw Tuks score a final basket before the buzzer to take a 35-33 lead into half-time, but the momentum was undoubtedly sitting with Vaal.

Both sides started the third quarter well offensively. But in the third minute Vaal finally took the lead for the first time in the game with yet another shot from beyond the arch. Tuks’s offence seemed to have lost its sting, allowing Vaal to keep adding to the lead. Tuks were made to sweat for every point they put up on the board and the teams went into the final quarter with Vaal leading 58-54.

In the last quarter, both sides tried to take control of the game, but it was Vaal that looked more comfortable with the ball. The quarter was proving to be a battle of the defences and both teams made it difficult for the other to get any sort of offensive momentum going. However, Tuks managed to dig deep and reduce the lead to 64-63 with six minutes remaining in the game. Despite having come to within one basket of retaking the lead, Tuks was unable to slow down the strong Vaal offence led by two-guard Mike Mukumbata. In the dying minutes of the match the result seemed beyond doubt as Vaal finished with a comfortable 79-65 lead to win the opening game of the GUBL finals.

“Basketball is a game of runs, and if you start the game with intensity you will not be intense for the entire game. We had our run and they had theirs, but we were not able to recover after their run. Their parameter shooting was working for them today,” said Tichagara Mabiza, point-guard and Tuks’s captain.

Game two, to be played on 20 October at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto campus, is a must-win for Tuks.

Photos: Kobus Barnard

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