The much anticipated semifinal stage of the Varsity Basketball tournament took place, with the Wits University first up against the Vaal University of Technology in the first semi-final. It was an intense battle between the two sides, where Wits managed to beat VUT 91-62, booking themselves a place in the final at the Old Mutual Sports Hall.
Wits were undoubtedly the favourites to clip the 2018 USSA champions VUT, after going through the round robin phase of the tournament with seven wins from seven games. VUT looked like the team to beat when the tournament got underway but their form seemed to slip away as the competition progressed. Their game last night against UKZN, showed glimpses of their past selves when they managed to overcome the UKZN challenge 75-72. The semi-final was however a completely different ball game, in which Wits proved too tough, sending VUT packing.
The match up was one that was played at a very high intensity right from the beginning, with VUT looking threatening early on. They did eventually open the scoring when Nkosinathi Festile produced a fantastic lay up to put them in the lead. That was however short lived, with Angelo Quinn producing the goods for the Witsies with a three-pointer. The lead then exchanged hands for a few moments before Wits were able to pull away with a 23-8 lead. The second quarter belonged to Wits, after Miguel Ferrao and Mvelo Buthelezi had a magic period of play, helping add a further 18 points to their tally. VUT struggled on a little, only managing a 13 points that saw them trail Wits 41-21.
The third quarter took a big team effort from Wits to keep their distance from VUT, who looked determined to find a way back into the match with Anthony Chukwubuka lighting up the scene with his powerful driving lay ups. Buthelezi, Quinn, and Clinton Meela were however up for the challenge, continuing to produce the goods for Wits. Ferrao was also on hand to provide the assists, when he wasn’t going for the hoop himself.
The buzzer eventually sounded with Wits hitting up a 67-38 lead. The fourth and final quarter saw VUT show glimpses of what they are like on a good day for them. That was however not quite good enough as Wits were able to step up and match the men from the Vaal. In the end both teams bagged 24 points apiece, seeing Wits secure a final at the first ever Varsity Basketball tournament. Anthony Chukwubuka was the stand out player for VUT bagging 20 points, with 12 rebounds and 1 assist. Wits is Angelo Quinn also stepped up in the game, getting 18 points, with two rebounds and two assists.
Wits 91-62 VUT
Wits: 4. Angelo Quinn, 5. Mvelo Buthelezi, 6. Kgaugelo Sathekge, 7. Briarley Klaasen, 8. Thamsanqa Nyawo, 9. Kgotseng Makena, 10. Clinton Meela, 11. Makoye Mapani, 12. Miguel Ferrao, 13. Everisto Passipamere, 14. David Mbamalu, 15. Kgotso Ntuane
VUT: 4. Jeft Mokwena, 5. Nkosinathi Festile, 6. Thabiso Magakabe, 7. Kolawole Ayodele, 8. Jan Makgota, 9. Christian Manoke, 10. Anthony Chukwubuka, 11. Abel Kalubi, 13. Richard Lubasi
By S’fiso Nyawo