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Curle seals win

David Curle dunked a three-pointer on the final buzzer to seal a 102-19 runaway victory against Zimbabwe for the Sasol South Africa wheelchair basketball squad at the World Cup Africa Qualifiers at Mandeville Indoor Stadium Wednesday.

The hulking forward totalled a damaging 37 points, including 14 field goals, three free throws and two three-pointers – five of those goals coming in the last seven seconds of the match.

Thandile Zonke ran circles around the Zimbabwean defence to score 14 points and Stuart Jellows sunk 11 baskets and managed five steals to heat up the competition.

Seventeen-year-old rookie Kyle Louw got off the bench to earn his share of the action, driving home two turn-overs, two offensive rebounds and a nifty steal in the dying minutes of the final quarter to steer South Africa closer to their century before clearing the way for Curle to set up for the final basket.

The match against Zimbabwe delivered the kind of dress rehearsal national coach Viv Sierra was aiming for ahead of Thursday’s round robin session against Morocco.

Knowing that South Africa will face the Moroccans again on Friday, Sierra has had a chance to test new combinations and implement several different plays to throw their opponents off course in the first encounter.

“We are definitely back, no doubt about that,” said Sierra. ÔÇ£We have ironed out the hiccups that tripped us up against Algeria. Tonight’s game was an affirmation that every man on the squad is ready for the next two days.

ÔÇ£We will test the water in the first game against Morocco, pretty much the same as they will do with us, because irrespective of who wins on Thursday, we will be playing the semifinal against each other. That’s the one that counts.ÔÇØ

After a record breaking year in 2008 which saw the Sasol South Africa wheelchair basketball team climbed to ninth in the world rankings, the smart money was on the local favourites to win the qualifier.

A shocking defeat, though, to powerhouse Algeria in the opening round on Sunday, sent the team scurrying back to the drawing board.

The home side came out fighting and turned the tide with resounding victories over Angola, Kenya and Zimbabwe. They are now just three games away from qualification for next year’s IWBF World Cup in Birmingham.

In other matches Wednesday, the Algerians bagged their fourth successive victory with another convincing display to beat Kenya 87-32 while Morocco outclassed Angola 74-38.

Fourth round results:

Algeria 87 Kenya 32
Morocco 74 Angola 38
South Africa 102 Zimbabwe 19