by Daniel Roodt
On Friday 13 March the Rhodes University Titans took on the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) Madibaz at Alec Mullins Hall. It was an evening of exciting basketball, raucous crowds and last-second drama.
The RU women’s team were comfortable victors, claiming a 36-20 win over the Madibaz.
While their male counterparts, however, fought hard but ultimately fell just short, narrowly losing 27-28 in a game full of drama.
The women’s game was first, and it was a game that Rhodes dominated throughout. T. Dumalisile of Rhodes was a constant threat throughout the match, scoring 13 baskets and constantly testing the Madibaz defence. She was well-matched by her counterpart, MT Ngwenya, wearing number 8 for the Madibaz who scored six baskets in the match.
NMU struggled to cope with the combined threat of Dumalisile and Rhodes SRC President, Katlego Mphahlele, who scored three baskets and provided multiple assists. Mphahlele was a thorn in the Madibaz side and offered a constant threat going forward.
The fourth quarter was somewhat spoiled when Rhodes number 14 L. Jafta went down with an ankle injury and was unable to play a further part. Ultimately, Rhodes was the outright winner in a scintillating game of Basketball, and Coach Kula will be happy with his team’s dominant performance.
The men’s game followed the women’s game. You could feel the anticipation as the hall filled up and the crowd was booming.
Both sides were evenly matched throughout. Unfortunately for the Titans, despite an exciting comeback, they were unable to clinch the win and ended up losing by a single point.
The first quarter was a scrappy affair and Rhodes struggled to gain control of the game. The Madibaz were well in command during the quarter, but failed to capitalise on this dominance and ended it with only a four-point lead.
Rhodes got back into it in the second quarter and had NMU reeling throughout. It was a quarter dominated by the excellent performances of Rhodes’ numbers 13 (T. Gudza) and 14 (Tafadzwa Sherewa) who scored two baskets apiece to wrestle the lead away from the visitors.
Like their opponents though, they failed to build a strong lead after this dominance due to several good opportunities being missed.
Following half-time, NMU number 9, Greg Reid really came into the game. He produced several stellar passes topped off with two baskets to get the Madibaz back into the game. His excellent performance helped his team extend their lead by seven at one point in the 4th quarter.
Reid’s performance was appreciated by the crowd, with one of the supporters shouting, “Number nine, you are doing the most.”
With under five minutes to go, the win seemed secured for NMU. They had established a lead of seven and looked to be in control of proceedings.
However, the Titans had other ideas. They mounted a brilliant comeback, topped off by number 7, F. Quvile who equalised following a breakaway seven seconds from full time.
Unfortunately, NMU received a shooting two in the final second of the game. Despite the best efforts of the Titans’ coach to put the shooter off with wild gesticulation, the NMU number 13, Lwazi M. managed to sink one of his free throws. This was enough to win the game by a single point.
It was an exciting night of basketball at Alec Mullins Hall, characterised by dazzling skill and brilliant support from the home fans. Unfortunately for the men’s team, they were unable to replicate their female colleagues, but both teams can be proud of themselves for their determination and skill.