UJ are now the only team with a perfect record in Varsity Basketball after VUT suffered defeat in the fourth round on Sunday.
The final day of the first weekend of the Varsity Basketball 2019 tournament saw Cape and Johannesburg derbies as well as two other round robin games at the Wits Sports Hall.
UCT GET ON THE BOARD
The day’s play commenced with an intriguing Cape derby between UCT and UWC, both of whom were still searching for their first victory of the tournament. As 2018 Varsity Basketball runners-up, UCT were the favourites to beat the tournament newcomers but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for them.
UWC got the better start, and deservedly lead after the first quarter, 20-14. UCT however clawed their way back very quickly in the second and third quarters, putting up a commanding lead. UWC did bounce back in fine style in the final period of play but it was a matter of too little too late and the deficit being too big to cover. The hooter sounded and it was UCT who claimed the bragging rights, 80-64, and the Western Cape’s first points ot the 2019 tournament.
TUKS BACK TO WINNING WAYS
Tuks delivered the first shock of this year’s tournament when they beat Wits in round 2, and showed determination to not be a scalp for newcomers NWU too. NWU put in a big shift in the first quarter, keeping Tuks at bay by restricting their usually free-flowing fast-paced play. As a result, the game was tightly contested going into the second quarter with the score of 16-13 to the Stripe Generation.
The second and third periods changed the game, with the Power plays also being involved, which saw Ludwig Gerdes’ charges shift into a different gear, collecting points through lay-ups and 3-pointers. NWU did tighten things up defensively but it did them no favours that they were ineffective on attack, allowing Tuks to pick up a massive 78-48 win. The victory helped the boys from Pretoria stay inside the top four, albeit only on points difference.
UKZN DENY VUT AGAIN
UKZN and VUT contested a tight USSA semi-final a few months ago and this Varsity Basketball clash had much the same feel. VUT were unbeaten going into the game, but having just narrowly edged past some of their opponents. UKZN on the other hand, had suffered only one defeat at the death as well and were looking to collect all the points in this one.
As it happened, UKZN snuck by VUT thanks to narrow first, second and final quarter margins. The third was shared 12-apiece. VUT were a little sluggish in their performance after the halfway mark but this time around, UKZN’s experience made it difficult for the men from the Vaal to find a way back like they had done in previous games. The match thus ended 63-51 to the men from Zulu Kingdom, seeing them leapfrog VUT to second on the standings.
UJ DOMINATE WITS
The final game of the day solidified the log placings and concluded the busy weekend’s action at Wits Sports Hall. That it as the much anticipated local derby between Wits and UJ added to the atmosphere. UJ looked favourites to secure the win in this one, having backed up their USSA title with with an comfortably unbeaten start to the competition, while Wits have not looked like the 2018 side who won the championship.
The Orange army made their intentions clear from the start, pulling away with a commanding 23-8 lead at the conclusion of the first quarter. Angelo Quinn and Miguel Ferrao weren’t having the best of days for Wits, often surprisingly failing to basket their 3-pointer attempts, which in turn saw UJ quickly counter and add scoreboard pressure on the hosts. Zett Mutongoza, meanwhile, was once again in fine form for UJ, often bagging his 3-pointers whenever he was afforded space by the Witsies. The end of the second quarter saw UJ up 39-18. Wits eventually called upon their Power play to try cut the difference in points but it benefitted UJ more, who were often quick to pounce on Wits’ mistakes and turn them into points. Another Power play came in the final period and UJ just continued in the same vein, mixing attack and defence really well to see off Wits fairly easily with an emphatic 87-42 win.
VARSITY BASKETBALL ROUND 4 RESULTS
UWC 64 UCT 80
NWU 48 Tuks 78
VUT 51 UKZN 63
Wits 42 UJ 87
Varsity Basketball action continues on Thursday, 10 October. Tickets will be available for R10 at Wits Sports Hall on matchdays. Alternately, watch selected Varsity Basketball fixtures live on SuperSport or follow updates via @varsitysportsSA on social media… #VarsityBallin.
By S’fiso Nyawo