KATLEGO PHEEHA

The Tuks1 men’s basketball team lost to UJ1 in a closely fought match when the two teams clashed during Intervarsity on 10 March.

Tuks started the game on a high, passing the ball with precision and letting their pointguard control the game with clinical ball movement. While UJ attempted to score through mid-range shots, Tuks attacked well, forcing easy lay-ups and foul opportunities. Both teams played well defensively forcing creative opposition. At the end of the first quarter Tuks was leading 12-7.

The next quarter started with UJ in the ascendency, dismantling the Tuks defence with fast break points. Tuks retaliated with good dribbling and aggressive smash-mouth basketball, driving into the post and freeing up their guards for wide open three-point shots.

Tuks had a field goal percentage of nearly 100% from beyond the arch, extending the lead to double digits at one point. UJ, however, stuck to their guns and allowed their defence to create turnover points and the teams went into half time with the lead reduced to 28-21 in favour of Tuks.

In the third quarter both teams showed the value of a good half time rest, playing fierce and fast-paced basketball. UJ relied on their passing game to create shooting opportunities and this tactic paid off as they evened the scores for the first time in the match with two minutes left in the quarter. But Tuks bounced back and once more UJ was trailing at the end of the quarter with the scores at 43-36.

UJ cut the lead to 49-47 in the dying minutes of the quarter. UJ continued placing pressure on Tuks, and with 28 seconds left, they took a one point lead. Tuks called a time out in the last second of play and attempted a lay-up basket but the pass went astray. In the end UJ won 54-52.

“It was very disappointing especially considering that we played very well for the first three quarters. What we need to improve is our defence. Big teams, the way they win, is defensively. If you play good defence, then the offence will take care of itself. We are actually a big team this year, as opposed to last year when we only had seven players, so at least now we have good rotation,” said Tuks shooting guard Teboho Nkotsi. Nkotsi became a crowd favourite during the match because of his dribbling passes, earning him the nickname “Rondo” after the NBA Celtics star, Rajon Rondo.

Tuks head coach Neo Mothiba said after the game, “On paper we were the better team, we beat them by 30 [points] last year. Fifty per cent of our squad is new, and we are trying to integrate them. But at the end of the day, they [UJ] stayed with it and managed to capitalise on our mistakes. I don’t think they won it, but rather that we lost it,” he said.

Photos: Kobus Barnard

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