Fresh from a winning performance in the annual intervarsity, the Nelson Mandela University basketball teams have switched their attention to the popular Mayoral Cup competition starting in September.
Madibaz Sport basketball manager Bernard Petersen said they were happy with their efforts at the recent intervarsity at Fort Hare in Alice, where both their men’s and women’s teams took top spot on the podium.
“We are aiming to build on that for the Mayoral Cup in Nelson Mandela Bay, but we know the sides will be strong and highly competitive. All the teams are motivated to do well because there are good financial incentives.”
The Madibaz sides delivered notable performances last year by winning the women’s section and ending third in the men’s division and are focused on again setting a high standard.
“There is huge interest in this competition and it is certainly a highlight of our year to be part of it,” said Petersen.
“This time we are looking at clinching the titles in both sections. We want to be competitive and contribute to the standard of this tournament and our students are eager after a successful intervarsity.”
Despite some setbacks in their preparations due to the upgrading of the training facility, Petersen said the players had worked really hard to be ready for the Mayoral Cup.
“We had to use the outdoor court at the North Campus and had to endure extreme weather conditions. Our players, especially our men’s team, have made huge sacrifices.”
With the year-end exams approaching, he added that it would be their last competition of the season.
Madibaz have already competed in the University Sport South Africa national tournament, where the men ended sixth and the women 11th.
Although financial constraints prevented them from taking part in the Nelson Mandela Bay leagues this year, Petersen said the players had undergone intensive fitness and conditioning programmes.
“We are fortunate to have some of our players studying human movement science and they organised the programmes, while we also arranged friendly matches against local teams.”
He said they did all they could to ensure basketball thrived at Mandela University, although they were struggling to attract local players due to the state of the sport at school level.
“Basketball is still a minnow sport in our region, while it is well marketed and organised in other provinces such as Gauteng.”
He said there would however be an opportunity for them to market the sport better by joining forces with the local semi-pro team, the Windbreakers.
“This is the local provincial team that competes in the Basketball National League. Our director of sport, Yoliswa Lumka, is their conditioning coach and we have a healthy relationship with them.”