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Clash of the titans in NBL play-offs

Business

Chris Theko

The current National Basketball League champions, Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP) has promised to not give their opponents a chance when they meet in the third leg of the best of five series playoffs tomorrow at the Ratjomose court. 

LP is the most successful team in recent years before the disruptions of Covid-19 which saw a lot of sporting activities and other gatherings being suspended for almost a year. 

The disruption however, seem to not have hampered in any way the plans of the Champions to continue with their dominance in the country’s elite basketball league.

A win for LP will guarantee them title retention while a win for the challengers Tornado98ers (T98ers) will mean they get to keep their hopes alive of a first playoff championship. 

“The mandate is clear from our part which is to win the series by 3–0 and not give them a chance to even challenge us to the last game.   

“We are ready to defend our championship to show all the other teams that when we won it before it was not by chance but our commitment and work ethic speaks for itself,” LP coach Tumelo Makha said in an interview with Newsday Sport.

LP won the second game by a convincing 81–47 margin to take the lead to 2-0 and this was their highest scoring game. Makha said in the first game it was a bit challenging due to having been inactive for a long time, although the team was quick to adapt.

“Some of our players could not make it for the playoffs because they are based outside the country and those available had been inactive for almost a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic but when we got to the second game the momentum had improved so we are counting on it to continue,” Makha said. 

LP has been dominant in the league, winning the Southern Conference in 2018 and making it to the Africa Collegial Basketball tournament finals in 2019 before winning back-to-back summer slam tournaments in 2018 and 2019.    

Coming into the playoffs, T98ers defeated the most decorated team in the history of basketball in Lesotho, KTA All Stars. Hopolang Hoala, a player of the T98ers told this publication that they are heading into the match as underdogs but will not be a walk over.

“We are aware that even after defeating one of the most successful teams, KTA All Stars, people still see us as underdogs but we are more determined to change the narrative and definitely want to take the series all the way to the last game. 

“We struggled a bit to find our rhythm and chemistry because we spent a lot of time apart but now we have worked on that so we are ready to put up a fight,” Hoala said.

T98ers was founded in 2018 mostly by former students of National University of Lesotho and immediately joined the NBL.  Till date have not won any major trophy.  

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