â€¦guests Trailblazers and Dolphins new champions
The largely anticipated edition of this yearâ€™s Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA)-organised annual Winter Tournament took place at the Lehakoe Recreational Centre in Maseru where guests Trailblazers from Bloemfontein in neighbouring South Africa came out champions in the malesâ€™ category with Dolphins scooping honours in the femalesâ€™ category of the contest on Sunday.
The tournament returned after a two-year hiatus resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions that suspended contact sports since early 2020.
In the finals the winners Trailblazers and Dolphins beat their counterparts KTA All Stars and Lerotholi Polytechnic 57-30 and 29-16 in the males and femalesâ€™ categories respectively.
The LBA Public Relations Officer (PRO) Hopolang Hoala told this publication that initially 17 teams were expected for the tournament â€“ six womenâ€™s teams and 11 menâ€™s teams, but that only eight male teams showed up and registered saying that almost posed a concern yet the tournament surpassed expectations.
“We got a bit worried when the initial number of teams we had expected did not make it but people showed up, teams which were part of the tournament played their hearts out, and entertained the crowds that came in great numbers to make the competition a resounding success,” Hoala said.
Though Trailblazers ended up being the winners in the malesâ€™ section, they had to go through some tough tests in the games leading to the final losing one game against Bokamoso Rebels 32-35.
“The loss that Trailblazers conceded tells a lot about how much teams prepared and showed up because unlike us, their league has been active and they have been in action hence we did not expect them to lose but they did which says a lot about the spirit of competition in our league,” Hoala indicated.
Hoala highlighted that the tournament was good preparation for the local teams as they evaluate their readiness for the upcoming season which is expected to begin this month.
Trailblazers walked away with a trophy and the M2500 prize money while second placed KTA All Stars took home M800 in the malesâ€™ category. In the ladiesâ€™ category, Dolphins won the M1200 first prize and trophy with Lerotholi Polytechnic taking M500 as runners-up.
Trailblazers player, Vusi Sithole thanked the LBA for the tournament saying they came to seek a challenge which would be different from what they are used to in their country’s league.
“We are happy that we came here and got to give our young players an opportunity to get international experience which was valuable. Winning the tournament is a plus for us and we are happy,” Sithole said.