Zimbabwe’s women’s basketball team put up a formidable battle to win a well-deserved bronze medal over opponents South Africa in the playoff battle of the Region 5 games today. The home team entered the match energized, yet tired from a grueling, tough semi-final battle against Mozambique that saw some players injured including Arundel School’s captain Mutsa Chiromo.
Zimbabwe made it clear from the onset that they would not leave empty handed and the standing ovation from the crowd after the match surely made the girls proud. They gained an early lead and maintained it until the final whistle ending triumphantly with a score of 52-39.
In a final women’s match that went down to the wire, Angola’s women beat rivals Mozambique 41-39 for the gold.
The boys’ play-off game also was an exciting match for the home crowd. South Africa started the game on a high note in the first quarter after they landed a number of three pointers. Zimbabwe returned the favor and went into the first quarter break leading 10-5. The host nation set up a 10 point lead which their opponents failed to beat for the rest of the game.
Noah Penduka was the pick of the Zimbabwean players with the crowd screaming his name continuously. The Bulaway- born Nkulumane High student clearly impressed with his speed, dribbles and scoring skills. Unlike poor free throw performances that cost them important points in previous matches of the tournament, Zimbabwe converted over 75 percent of their free throws in the play-off match.
By the end of the 2nd quarter Zimbabwe was leading 26-16 in a tense game with South Africa trying to get a medal to retain honor as the defending champions, whilst Zimbabwe were after a medal as the host country.
The home court boys went for half time with a comfortable lead of 41-27. Zimbabwe kept holding bay with a strong defense and an energetic attacking force, and finally made off with the bronze medal after a 71-64 win.
The men’s final again was a match between Lusophone rivals Mozambique and Angola. Both teams communicated in Portuguese and had tall players. This game also concluded with a narrow win for Angola to claim the goal with 54-49.
Men’s and women’s basketball ended with identical medal podiums: Angola – Gold, Mozambique – Silver, Zimbabwe – Bronze.