Mer­ce­nar­ies set­tle for bronze

The Manica Post - - Sport - Sports Cor­re­spon­dent

MER­CE­NAR­IES bas­ket­ball team brought pride to the prov­ince after they set­tled for third place at the just-ended Bas­ket­ball Union of Zimbabwe Na­tional Cham­pi­ons.

Mid­lands State Univer­sity played host to the four day sport ex­trav­a­ganza.

In the male cat­e­gory, Mutare was rep­re­sented by Mer­ce­nar­ies and Dangamvura Knights while Dangamvura Knights rep­re­sented the ladies.

A to­tal of 36 teams par­tic­i­pated in both males’ and fe­males’ cat­e­gories. Mer­ce­nar­ies were in Pool D to­gether with Dangamvura Knights, Hus­tlers, War­riors and Cameo. Hav­ing gone into the com­pe­ti­tion as un­der­dogs, Mer­ce­nar­ies emerged as a force to reckon with after win­ning all their group matches to book a place in the semi fi­nals.

They dis­missed Cameo 67-35 in their open­ing match be­fore edg­ing Hus­tlers 56-46. They went on to beat Dangamvura Knights 51-32.

Mer­ce­nar­ies con­tin­ued with their gi­ant killing act and de­feated War­riors 62-42 to book a place in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

They clashed with JBC and won 59-44 to progress to the semi fi­nals where they met Raiders.

How­ever, their fine run to the fi­nal was cut short in the semi-fi­nals when they failed to over­power Raiders who beat them 64-49.

Mer­ce­nar­ies went on to play the thir­dand-fourth play-offs against Giants and won 55-16 to take home the bronze medal.

Dangamvura Knights men found the go­ing too tough and failed to se­cure a berth in the quar­ter-fi­nals. In their opener, Dangamvura Knights dis­missed War­riors 50-22 be­fore suf­fer­ing a 61-32 de­feat in the hands of their broth­ers Mer­ce­nar­ies. They went on to lose 51-36 to Cameo. Their cam­paign ended in the group stages.

In the ladies cat­e­gory, Dangamvura Knights was in Pool B to­gether with Green Stars, Vix­ens and An­gels. They lost their matches against Green Stars and An­gels 53-16 and 41-30 re­spec­tively.

The fi­nal in the men’s cat­e­gory saw Foxes win­ning the tro­phy con­vinc­ingly with a 80-66 win over Raiders. In the ladies cat­e­gory, Vix­ens nar­rowly edge Lak­ers 44-43.

Man­i­ca­land Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tonde Shasha said Mutare teams lack ex­po­sure since they play few games due to few teams in the league.

“Our three teams lacked ex­po­sure. We have few teams in our leagues and it re­ally af­fected us. Some teams that we faced had some for­eign play­ers but we are lim­ited due to re­sources.

“We will have tour­na­ments and in­vite teams from Harare and Bu­l­awayo. We will also send the pro­vin­cial teams to Mozambique so that we also learn from our neigh­bour­ing coun­try. Mozambique is a bas­ket­ball pow­er­house in Africa and we as Man­i­ca­land should take ad­van­tage of that. Man­i­ca­land will be host­ing the na­tional Cham­pi­onships and we hope to do bet­ter next year this means we need to start work­ing now. We have 12 months and work be­gins now,” said Shasha.

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