The Golden Fireballs survived a late scare against the Kingdom Stars and registered a 53-32 win at the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria. The Fireballs had clear intentions in the first quarter, when they took a 15-7 lead. The Stars’ shooting woes continued in the second quarter and they struggled to convert the eighteen balls that they gained through their defensive skills, to sit on a fifty-nine goal percentage at half-time.
Having scored just thirteen goals in the first half, coach Precious Mthembu made three attacking changes and two defensive changes in the championship quarter to match up to the Fireballs’ intensity. The Stars’ defensive trio of Nozipho Ntshangase, Nosihle Mkhwanazi and Jordan Buys made their presence known in the Fireballs’ goal third, turning ball and coming away with crucial pick-ups. Goal Shooter Aphiwe Thusini also made an impact on goal with her superb finishing, which saw the Stars only lose the third quarter by one goal.
The Stars had plenty of motivation going into the last quarter. Defensively, the KZN side continued to be a nightmare for the Fireballs, although both teams gave away plenty of turnover balls due to unforced errors and mismanagement of the ball. Fireballs Goal Shooter Owethu Ngubane, who had only missed one goal at half-time, proved to be the difference for her side with her consistency, and converted all her shots in the second half and was rewarded with the Player of the Match accolade for her industrious performance.
Despite the victory, the Fireballs will remain second on the log and coach Dr. Elsje Jordaan says they will use the next two games to put them in a favorable position for the semi-finals: ‘’We are a team with integrity, we play every game to win and we give it our best. It’s not that we will not take the foot off the pedal, saying we have secured that semi-final position. For us, its about finishing strong and achieving the goals that we have set for ourselves, and that is what the team is all about.’’
The Stings also secured an emphatic 52-33 win against the Eastern Cape Aloes in Division One, this was an important victory for the Stings to seal a semi-final spot in the competition following the Flames’ defeat. Adri Kannemeyer showcased her shooting accuracy and composure underneath the post to win her first Player of the Match award in her debut season for the Stings. The Stings will now have to wait until Thursday to find out who they will face for a spot in the final.
In Division Two, the Sunbirds put last night’s one goal defeat behind them and came out stronger against Sonoblomo, beating them 58-39. The first quarter was tightly contested, with both teams deadlocked at eleven goals apiece. Sonoblomo were dealt an injury blow in the early stages of the second quarter, when Goal Defense Lerato Chabwe had to be carried off court and was sent to hospital, which saw a drop in Sonoblomo’s approach. The Sunbirds’ defensive trio of Tumelo Nkoe, Maryke Coetzee and Palesa Mbukwana found some thrust defensively and impeded Sonoblomo’s transitions, taking a ten-goal lead at half-time.
Amy Jacobs was then introduced on Goal Attack for Sonoblomo, alongside Bianca Pienaar on Shooter, which added more variety for the side in the second half. Jacobs and Pienaar did a great job in splitting the defenders and keeping them at bay, helping the side to a strong finish and winning the fourth quarter 13-12 but the delayed surge wasn’t enough to secure a win.
Comets 43-38 Diamonds
Baobabs 50-30 Tornados
Flames 50-53 Crinums
Sonoblomo 39-58 Sunbirds
Stars 32-53 Fireballs
Aloes 33-52 Stings
Tuesday (27/06/2023) Fixtures
08:00|Div.2|Sonoblomo vs Tornados
10:00|Div.2|Lilies vs Diamonds
12:00|Div.1|Stars vs Stings
14:00|Div.1|Fireballs vs Flames
16:00|Div.1|Crinums vs Jaguars
18:00|Div.2|Queens vs Comets