23 January 2007

PAST NEWS Zimbabwe : Celtics upstage Black Rhinos

A TAFADZWA SOKO and Martin Muchabaiwa-led Celtics put its troubles behind to outplay equally haunted Black Rhinos 69-48 in a Harare Basketball Association (HBA) league match played at the University of Zimbabwe yesterday.

Celtics’ baseman Soko "The Magician" top-scored with 26 points while shooting guard Muchabaiwa, nicknamed "Majola", added an impressive 17 shooting points against a short-staffed Rhinos team that had only seven players on the team sheet.

Slack defending by the usually hard-running Rhinos saw Muchabaiwa score five three-point shots out of eight attempts to catapult a determined Celtics back into the top eight of the HBA log standings.

After a forgettable start to the season in which they lost three in seven games left Celtics on the ropes they have picked up form under new coach Simon Lawson to outrun a lacklustre Rhinos.

Celtics, who led 10-8 after the first quarter, added 21 solid points in the second quarter to lead 31-25 at the half-time break. But their defence always looked shaky as they conceded 17 points in the third quarter against the team with the second worst attack in the league. Rhinos had an average of 37 points a match but they managed to score a respectable 48 points against Celtics whilst rotating only six players, a feat that exposed Celtics’ defensive shortcomings.

Despite a slight improvement after the break, Celtics had only point guard Michael Dingiswayo and Soko to show for good defensive players.

But Celtics never looked like giving up their lead as they dominated the last quarter despite being in foul trouble with Soko getting both offensive and defensive rebounds and Muchabaiwa continuing his shooting rage. He fired a huge three off balance and in front of Rhinos’ captain Makumbe for the match’s last shot to end an impressive show.

His coach Lawson was impressed by his percentage scoring rate but said he has to work on his defence to be a complete player.

"The whole team has to work on their defence because at this rate we will pay when we play big teams," said Lawson.

Rhinos’ best player on view, Pararai, said the loss of former players Michael Koffi and Lloyd Muyanganira to Jammers had left Rhinos a very weak team and efforts to get more players during Christmas break were already underway.

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