MATT MILTON

The Tuks men’s first basketball team have geared themselves up for a successful year and morale is running high with the appointment of Coach Neo Mothiba. Coach Mothiba, who is currently the captain of the South African basketball team, has set his sights on the University Sports South Africa (USSA) National Institutional Championships this July in which the men’s team will be making its first appearance.

Apart from the USSA league, Tuks has also been entered into the Gauteng Basketball League allowing the team to play more games and and have more competition. “The guys are prepared to take the league,” states Mothiba.

With over 60 players trying out at the beginning of the year, Coach Mothiba opted to start training earlier by giving players a month to show their mettle. “We needed to give them as much time [as possible] and we had clear selection criteria,” said Mothiba who had narrowed it down to about 20 players, split into two teams, by March.

“One of my main objectives is to have a base to build on,” said Mothiba who expects 80 % of the team to play again next year. Coach Mothiba built his team around a mixture of experience and youth. While most of the team is comprised of second year students some of them have played international level basketball. Kevin Magane is one such student and has played with Coach Mothiba in Mozambique.

The first team boasts a diverse mix of players from various countries in Africa such as Nigeria, Congo and Sierra Leone, thus adding extra talent to the pool. “Based on the talent we have we could be the best in the league,” says team captain Tichafara Mabiza. Mabiza, who has been repeatedly selected for the ESPN All Star Celebrity game, has been playing for Tuks since 2009. Prior to this he played for the Zimbabwean national team in 2007, bringing vital experience to the team.

Up until now the first team has only played six games, including an international friendly against the Seychelles. Most of the games are played at home and fans are encouraged to attend. “When there are fans, there is a responsibility [on us] to play,” declares Mabiza. “It’s a high activity sport,” said Mabiza. “It’s the most exciting sport on the planet.” The team officially practices twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, but players often get together at six on Wednesday and Friday mornings to practice.

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