Our SASOL national wheelchair basketball team won the silver medal at the the 4th IWBF African World Cup Qualifiers in Luanda, Angola at the weekend.
But they lost out to 66-56 to Algeria for the final spot to represent Africa at the World Cup next July in Korea.
The young Amawheelaboyz ,who are on a rebuilding mission after six of the 2012 London Paralympian’s retired from the national team, saw 21-year-old Kyle Louw reach his milestone with 100 caps.
Algeria, boasting six pro-players to boost their line-up,┬á topped the round-robbin log and came out strongly with SA being pensive when power forward Luvuyo Mbanda was off on the bench with four fouls early in the firsst quarter. A good fight back by the green and gold, saw the quarter end 19-15 in Algeria’s favour.
Algeria, and tournament MVP Nabil Guedonue, were unstoppable in the second quarter and upset the serenity in the SA team by scoring a quick three baskets to push Algeria into a nine-point lead. South Africa struggled to break the deadlock and finished the half┬á trailing by 34-25.
Throughout most of the third quarter the status quo remained but with three minutes to go, Team Sasol SA clawed its way back into the game with Mooketsi, Tshange, Van Niekerk and Louw playing the game of their life and scoring eight points on the up and up.
In the dying minute of the third quarter, Tshange planted a pressure shot on a foul and sunk the bonus to go up 51-50 at the buzzer.
With some 2000 odd spectators screaming for the young chargers, Algeria came out fighting and once again took the lead 55-54. With two minutes remaining, the SA team could not hold against the onslaught and missed vital baskets on the turnover to go down 66-56 at the final whistle and Algeria took the title of African champions and the right to represent Africa at the World Cup.
Said WBSA Chief Executive Officer, Charles Saunders: “I’m proud of the youngsters. They did South Africa and our sponsor SASOL proud. The coaching staff and team, lead by head coach Franck Belen, while devastated at the loss, agreed that Algeria was the better team on the day, But we’ll be ready for their next encounter against Algeria next year June in Morocco.
Team SA was awarded two All Star Awards represented in Gift Mooketsi and Luvuyo Mbanda.
In the bronze medal play-off, Egypt went down in double overtime to Morocco 71-68 and Nigeria beat hosts Angola 51-48 in the ffith and sixth play-off.