By Our Reporter
The Mo626 College basketball ‘elite eight’ games return to the courts in Blantyre tomorrow (Saturday) to identify the ‘elite four’ who will battle it out in the semifinals and eventual finals next month.
Eight teams in both men’s and women’s categories are expected to battle it out for honours at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (Kuhes) basketball courts as well as Blantyre Youth Centre and the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas) courts in Blantyre.
The ‘elite eight’ in the men’s category include MUBAS Wildcats, MUST Gorillas, ABC Lions, Bunda Buffalos, UNIMA Hawks, KUHES Lumbricals, MAGU Wolves and Mzuni Panthers. In the women’s category, the teams include HUHES Ganglions, MUST Asterix, MAGU She-Wolves, ABC Lady Lions, UNILIA Dark Roses, MUBAS Lady Cats, UNIMA Hawks and Bunda Olivettes.
NBM plc Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager Akossa Hiwa said in an interview yesterday that as sponsors they are excited that the games are now coming to an end to conclude season three of the tournament which was delayed by almost two years due to restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The college basketball season gives students something to work towards and look forward to. Right now, teams are training every day and keeping fit. This fits perfectly with our intentions for Mo626 College basketball – which is to build well rounded individuals within tertiary institutions. You will recall that NBM plc offers scholarships and also awards best performing students. The latter was established over 30 year ago. College basketball helps ensure that students are both mentally and physically active,” Hiwa explained.
NBM plc entered into a partnership with the Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) to sponsor the college basketball tournament for three years in 2017 and successfully staged the two seasons in 2018 and 2019 before being delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic to finish season three of the K63.5 million tournament.
Basmal Vice President Banthari Banda said in an interview yesterday that they are ready for the ‘elite eight’ games saying there will be a total of 20 exciting games spread across four basketball courts in Blantyre.
“We are prepared for the games, we will have a total of 20 games, 10 each for the men’s and women’s categories and we have spread them across four courts at Kuhesi (both in-door and out-door) and Mubas and Blantyre Youth Centre and we will have our officiating panel coming from across the country.”
“We will use the double knock out format to give a chance to all the teams. So, even if a team loses one game, it will have a chance of qualifying for the semifinals by winning the remaining games. It will be an exciting weekend of basketball. We want to thank NBM plc for this sponsorship which is unearthing talent,” said Banda.
MAGU Wolves Captain Thokozani Sinababa said they are confident of progressing through to the next round because of the experience that they have gained in the past.
“We have some experience in this tournament, last time we were in fourth position after losing to Mubas but now we have new players who have brought in some positive energy in the team. We are going to give a good fight,” declared Sinababa.
Mubas Wildcats versatile player Timothy Banda said they are prepared to ‘bring it home’ this time round.
“We are very prepared, we have been working hard even prior to this tournament and we are pretty sure that this time we are bringing it home because last time we were in third position and this time we are going all the way,” said Banda.
The semifinals and finals of the tournament are expected to be played in Lilongwe during the weekend of 19 March 2022.