St John U18 BBall WrapUP

The Future Looks Bright

The future of basketball is in great, capable hands. These were some of the sentiments shared by parents, coaches and fans of the game during the 9th St John’s College U18 Invitational Basketball Tournament held at St John’s College in Johannesburg this past weekend. Top schools from in and around South Africa as well as neighbouring countries converged for 1 of the best junior basketball tournaments in the game’s calendar. The neighbouring countries represented were Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland.

The previous weekend (12-14 February) saw Pretoria Boys High win the U16 leg of the festival, so it was going to be interesting to see who would come out top in the U18. With 28 teams participating over the weekend, there was certainly no lapse in action as everybody put their best foot forward. Defending champions Michael Mount Waldorf School had their work cut out for them as the likes of Durban High School (last year’s runners up), St Stithians College, Kearsney College, Dominican Convent School, Maritzburg College, Jeppe High for Boys and others came ready to battle for top honors. Escola Secundaria Nelson Mandela & Matola Secondary School represented Mozambique with pride while Falcon College and St John’s College Harare also displayed a great game for Zimbabwe.

A tournament of this stature is certainly a great way for the programs to gauge themselves against their peers as most of the players will continue to play with and against each other at different levels of their basketball careers. The professionalism in which the whole event was run has to be commended; from the organisers at St John’s College to the match officials who were of the highest level. This was especially evident when play was interrupted by rain on day 2 and adjustments had to be made to resume play on day 3, the co-operation from the teams reflected the goodwill and sportsmanship of the tournament.

The crowd comprised of Coaches, administrators, parents, siblings and fans of the game; was treated to some great matchups throughout the weekend.  By day 3 some of the schools had gained a separation from others and definitely looked on cause to the definitive victory. 1 could have thought that fatigue would have caught up, but the intensity and adrenaline levels had the players shifting gears; of course it was very imperative for the coaches to also manage their rosters effectively. A number of games went into overtime and some finished at very close margins of 1 or 2 points.

The Plates Semi Finals saw 2 games go to the wire as Falcon College defeated St Albans (33-32) and Dominican Convent defeated defending champions Michael Mount (35-27) to set up the Plates Final. Falcon then went on to win the Plates Final by defeating Dominican Convent (34-12)

In the Cup Final 4: Pretoria Boys High defeated Maritzburg College (43-25), Durban High School managed to edge Matola Secondary (31-29) in a hard fought semi. This set up a great final between Pretoria Boys High and Durban High School, which revisited the rivalry between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In a very great exhibition of South African basketball, the crowd was kept at the edge of their seats as both schools went back and forth with Coaches Thanda Kwayama and Letha Zulu charging their troops for 1 last push.  In the end, it was last year’s runners up who were able to rise above for the win despite Pretoria’s great shooting in the last 49 seconds. The final score was 53-51 to DHS and both teams got a standing ovation from all who were present for their brave efforts and display on the court.

During the prize giving, Headmaster Paul Edey, thanked all involved in the event. The All Star team  was announced and Thami Nyawo of Pretoria Boys was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Bryan Cele also received a prize from Adidas for winning the Slam Dunk competition.

It was very good to have Adidas as 1 of the sponsors as they gave players an opportunity to the athletes to take to the court with some of the best shoes on the market at the moment, hopefully the partnership will grow with the tournament for years to come. I believe Hollard’s involvement will also spark more corporate partnership for the event. The presence of SupersportTV was also testament to all that the game of basketball is steadily growing towards a great future.

Congratulations to all the participants; may each and every one of you continue to excel both on the basketball court as well as your academics. We are all looking forward to seeing you continue to grow within the game and making your communities, provinces and country proud.