The second semi-final of the Varsity Basketball tournament, saw the in form University of Cape Town take to the court against the University of Johannesburg at the Wits Old Mutual Sports Hall. The game had everything a spectator would have hoped for in a semi-final, with UCT in the end taking it in dramatic fashion 81-76 to book their spot in the final with Wits University.
UJ had looked good going into the clash, finishing in second place just behind the unbeaten Wits. UCT had experienced a good run of form, improving drastically from their first week of the tournament that saw them only win a single game. The men from the Western Cape were led out by their impressive captain Siphumle Qanya, who has been tipped as the possible MVP of the tournament, after putting in great performances despite his team at times dropping the ball in some of their games. One noticeable player that was missing from the UCT line-up was sharp shooting Mutsa Bingandani. His services were however not missed too much in the semi-final, with his side managing to progress to the final.
The contest was a typical knockout game, with the action commencing in a very cagey manner with both teams looking to eliminate any mistakes that could cost them a place in the final. As the minutes ticked on, there was more space, allow the game to flow a bit better with scoring opportunities availing themselves. The first quarter did eventually come to a close, with UJ taking a slender 17-16 lead into the second quarter. UCT’s Kyle Maclean was in a good mood, proving to be a menace for the UJ defence. This period of play was a game changer for the Capetonians, who added 29 points to their tally, eclipsing UJ’s 16 to take a 45-33 lead going into the break.
That lead was one that looked to take into the last two quarter but was still within UJ’s grasp. UJ found a way back into the swing of things very quickly, with Nathan Baruti working overtime, providing an assist, scoring and getting the steals to turn possession in their favour. Maclean however remained in good shape, always there to do the dirty work and keep his side alive in the battle. The buzzer eventually sounded at the end of the third quarter with UJ reclaiming the lead, with the score at 52-49.
The last quarter was a do or die moment for both teams, with the scoreline making it an open game. Baruti worked well with Nqosa Lehloenya for UJ, with Baruti blocking a few UCT lay up attempts that kept the game hanging by a thread. As time advanced UCT took back the lead, giving themselves a bit of gap from UJ on the scoreboard. The last 2 minutes did however see UJ claw their way back seeing the game play out in dramatic fashion, with UCT eventually holding on for a narrow 81-76 win. The men from Cape Town now take on Wits University at the Old Mutual Sports Hall, with the game set to start at 2pm.
UCT 81-76 UJ
UCT: 3. Siphumle Qanya, 6. Kyle Maclean, 8. Change Gatere, 10. Brian Aliam, 11. Joshua Phiri, 15. Patrice Menda, 20. Jamal Fernandes, 33. Duncan Nicholson, 45. Buhle Bhopela
UJ: 1. Manasse Kabasele, 2. Karabo Likotsi, 3. Gomolemo Mahuma, 8. Yves Mulwisa, 5. Mpumelelo Mahlati, 9. Sikhumbuzo Mthembu, 10. Peace Famudimo, 11. Nqosa Lehloenya, 12. Zett Mutongoza, 13. Trystan Speck, 14. Nathan Baruti, 15. Lance Chikore
By S’fiso Nyawo