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Wits crowned champions of the first Varsity Basketball tournament

- S’fiso Nyawo

The Varsity Basketball tournament concluded on Sunday afternoon, with the final, which was contested by Wits University and the University of Cape Town at the Old Mutual Sports Hall in Johannesburg. Wits were crowned the first ever champions of the tournament, which was its debut season. The Witsies has to overcome a stern test from UCT, in the end beating them 78-55.

Wits managed to accomplish this feat going unbeaten the whole tournament. Everisto Passipamere of Wits was awarded the MVP of the tournament honour after playing a vital role in the Johannesburg University securing its maiden title. UCT on the other hand, were not expected by many to get as far as they did in the tournament, after suffering three losses in the opening week of the competition. A late run of form saw them upsetting some of the tournaments favourites, on the way to making it into the final. Their captain Siphumle Qanya was particularly very impressive, even being nominated for the MVP award but in the end losing it to Passipamere.

The game saw Wits get off to a better start, bagging a two-pointer very early on before UCT quickly hit back. The game was played at a very fast pace, with Wits enjoying the early exchanges due to them being more accustomed to playing quick ball. Angelo Quinn also made his presence felt very early on scoring a three-pointer from the central part of the court. This pushed Wits to a 17-9 lead after the first quarter. Kyle Maclean kept his consistency from the last game for UCT, troubling the Wits defenders that were playing a high press. This saw UCT add a further 11 points to their tally, which however wasn’t enough to overcome the Witsies who themselves closed the quarter leading 41-20 at the break.

Everisto Passipamere was particularly very dangerous in the third quarter, after he managed to slam dunk the ball into the basket on two occasions, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The atmosphere inside the arena was kept the ballers energised, with the majority cheering on the home team. Siphumle Qanya was once again in top form, mostly tasked to mark Thamsanqa Nyawo, who was a handful on his own but Qanya handled it very well. The UCT skipper was also busy on both ends of the court, blocking the waves of Wits attacks but was also able to net a few points for his side from very difficult angles.

The third quarter buzzer eventually sounded and it was Wits who were still in control with the score at 68-42. The final quarter was just Wits keeping up the scoreboard pressure, completely keeping UCT a fair distance away from them. The game concluded with Wits being crowned the champions, beating UCT 77-55. Kyle Maclean was the stand out man for UCT, bagging 21 points whilst Passipamere contributed 28 for Wits.

Wits 78-55 UCT 

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

UCT: 3. Siphumle Qanya, 6. Kyle Maclean, 8. Change Gatere, 10. Brian Aliam, 11. Joshua Phiri, 15. Patrice Menda, 20. Jamal Fernandes, 33. Duncan Nicholson, 45. Buhle Bhopela