08 April 2013

TANZANIA : ABC Crowned NBL Men's Champions

Tanga — JUMA Kisoki and Erick Kahangwa led an outstanding team effort as ABC demolished Vijana City Bulls 93-81 to claim the Men's National Basketball League title in a dramatic climax to the championship here at the Mkwakwani Stadium.
Kisoki posted a game high 24 points while Kahangwa enjoyed a brilliant all-round game, scoring 22 points and was named most valuable player (MVP) of the tournament as ABC finally reclaimed an NBL crown, they last won here in 2008.
"This is the happiest day of my life. We have fond memories of this region as it is in this region we won our last national basketball league title a couple of years ago," joyous ABC coach Leonard Kwale told the 'Daily News' at the end of the thrilling final.
The game, graced by Tanga District Commissioner, Halima Dendego, was rescheduled to Sunday morning following a heavy rain that washed away the game while in its second quarter, with ABC a point up, 24-23, in the second quarter on Saturday night.
It helped spark off the game with the players allowed more time to refresh their muscles after a hectic schedule on Saturday, when they were forced to play two matches, semifinal and final, in a space of ten hours. It was a close start to yesterday's contest, played early in the morning and witnessed by a handful crowd, in which ABC took a 17-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Kisoki and Kahangwa were dominant throughout the championship but in the final, they had help from all their partners. Steven Athanasi notably contributed 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. ABC's confidence soared as the game went on and extended their advantage to seven points by half time, with Kahangwa and Athanasi each hitting a 3-pointer in a 22-16 run.
ABC came out in a mean mood for the third quarter and from the opening whistle, scored freely to go into a 25-13 spurt and open a massive 19 points lead. Vijana City Bulls fought back in the final quarter, charging to a 36-29 run that, however, could not overturn the score and in the end had to settle for second best with ABC declared new national champions, alongside Don Bosco Lioness, who dethroned Jeshi Stars, 46-36 in the women's final played on Saturday.
Kwale attributed their success to good leadership, discipline among his playing staff as well as good training programme. "It is almost three years now we're up there, and this largely due discipline, not only a militarily self enforced discipline but also discipline of the game plus hard work among the players, not to mention good leadership," he said.
Captain Gwakisa Mwasakyeni concurred with his coach saying the hard work they put in had paid off. "We're very happy, we have worked hard to get here and today's achievement is down to good coaching, discipline among the players and on top of that good leadership."
On Kahangwa winning the most valuable player title, Kwale had this to say: "He deserves to be the tournament's MVP; the guy is aggressive, has got determination and good cooperation with his teammates and is disciplined." Sajda Ahmed of Don Bosco Lioness, who scored 13 points in her side's final triumph over Jeshi Stars, was named the women's most valuable player.
The newly crowned NBL champions as well runners-up, in both male and female categories, will represent the country in this year's Zone Five championship set for Bujumbura Burundi in August. "Last time we qualified for Zone Five championship as runner-up, I am very happy that this time we're going there as national champions," said Kwale.
This year's national basketball championship brought together ten men's and five women's teams drawn into three groups. Group A had holders Savio, Vijana, Chui, Bandari and Tanga Kings, while group B comprised of ABC, JKT, Tanga United, Mipango Basketball, and Pazi.
The final group, C, consisted of female teams, namely Jeshi Stars, Vijana Queens, Don Bosco Lioness, JKT Stars, and Tanga Queens. A trio of Arusha Kings, Arusha Queens and Oilers failed to honour the event due to financial constraints.

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