Contesting the Varsity Basketball playoffs are what the Tuks men’s team has set their sights on from Friday, 4 October when playing at Wits.
Louis Motaung, who is one of the ‘old hands’ in the team, believes that everyone will need to be at their best for every minute of every game if Tuks are to better their sixth-placed finish from 2018.
“Playing the Varsity tournament is tough. There is not really such a thing as an easy game. On Friday, we are up against VUT [who lost narrowly to in Varsity Basketball 2018, 56-60]. They are one of the top teams in university basketball. Next, we will be playing our nemesis Wits and then UKZN who have beaten us in the previous two occasions.”
Tuks’ past performances in Varsity Basketball and USSA tournaments is nothing to get excited about. Somehow the team seems to get unstuck during vital games. Earlier this year Tuks finished ninth at USSAs. Meanwhile, during last year’s Varsity Basketball they only managed wins against TUT, Madibaz (both who didn’t qualify this year) and a surprisingly over eventual finalists UCT.
Motaung is confident that it won’t happen again. His confidence sprouts from a recent league encounter against UJ who won the USSA Tournament earlier this year.
“We were dominating on the court as well as the scoreboard for most of the game. UJ did win in the end. What made it exciting is that we were able to make a game of it. Normally UJ thrashes us by 20 or more goals. This shows to me we are ready to take our game to the next level.”
Motaung sees himself as the team’s fixer playing as small forward.
“I got enough height and the ability to play inside as well as agility to play on the outside. Small forwards are usually the second or third best shooters on the team and should be able to do a little bit of everything on the court. That is why I like to think of myself as the fixer.”
Liam Hayward is the big bloke on the team and will be making his Varsity Basketball debut playing centre.
“The centre is usually the team’s tallest. I am required to be physically domineering with more physical strength and athleticism. We get to score from offensive rebounds and are also required to block defenders to open other players up for driving to the basket. On the defence, the centre is responsible for keeping the opponent from shooting by blocking shots and passes in the vital area,” is how the 2.03m tall Hayward describes his role.
On being asked whether “white men can jump” Hayward laughed before answering yes.
“You should see our captain, Ludwig Gerdes, jump. He can fly.”
Tickets will be available for R10 at Wits Multi-purpose Sports Hall on matchdays. Alternately, watch selected Varsity Basketball fixtures live on SuperSport or follow updates @varsitysportsSA on social media – #VarsityBallin.
By Wilhelm de Swardt (TuksSport Media)