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French start on winning note

France, the second-ranked ranked wheelchair basketball team in the world, have arrived in South Africa for their tour and true to form, have stamped their authority on the game with two solid wins over the Discovery & Ricoh Invitational teams this week, beating the Discovery 71-57 and the Ricoh 61-34.

With the French team shooting on an average of 43%, the big Frenchman No 11 David Levrat, destroyed the opposition with 100% three-point shooting backed up by No 10 Nicolas Jouanserre who scored 28 and 25 points a game. Encouragingly, the Sasol SA national players representing their club’s Invitational teams, SA Captain Marcus Retief, Thandile Zonke and Jaco Velloen gave good showings with Marius Papenfus leading from the front and back on form averaging 71% shooting.

Team South Africa will need to shut down their opposition a lot quicker than the clubs have, as the French’s full court man-on-man press, upset the game plan of Ricoh’s coach Riechert and Discover coach Sierra. A more aggressive jump on their opposition not often seen in SA basketball, the French have brought a new dimension of game plan to the table and this makes for good basketball.

We are in for the games of our lives this Friday (29 October) at 19:00, Saturday at 2pm (live SuperSport Coverage) and Sunday at 2pm where the might of the French will meet Team Sasol SA at the Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Centre in Bez Valley, Bruma.

Thursday night sees the Anglo Gold Ashanti Invitational team, take on the French at the Ernest Oppenheimer Stadium in Orkney at 5.30pm. With both teams playing a similar structured game, we can expect a fast and aggressive clash before the French move into the three-test series against the Sasol SA which also highlights and celebrate Marius Papenfus 100th cap on the 30th October 2010.

Captain Marcus Retief stated on SABC’s Morning Live on Wednesday, that his team is ready and waiting and eager to prove a point. South Africa has beaten the French in the last two outings but coach Fick is not underestimating a tenacious coach Belen who from a non-ranking two years ago, has taken the French to the finalists of the 2010 IWBF World Cup this year in Birmingham.

Time will tell and we look forward to seeing how far we have come with WBSA’s rebuilding of the national team after the Beijing Paralympics under coach Fick. Young bloods Jaco Van Niekerk, Jaco Velloen, and Luyanda Ntwalana have all made an impact on the Sasol SA Squad and have been given the nod to show if they too have what it takes whilst Moeketsi, Jellows and Nortje are on overseas duties.