Basket Hounds and Lakers Mzansi were crowned the winners of the men’s and women’s titles respectively during the eighth edition of the annual Lakers Invitational Basketball Tournament played at Khanyisile Sports Club, ZITF Hall and Evelyn Girls High School in Bulawayo.
The Lakers Invitational Tournament is held every November and this year’s edition was held in memory of the late Lakers Foundation player and dedicated administrator Nompilo Ncube.
This year’s edition attracted teams from around Zimbabwe and neighboring Zambia.
Basket Hounds which are the brainchild of France-based Zimbabwe international Vitalis Chikoko were crowned the winners in the men’s category after outshining Zambian champions Napsa Hurricanes 80-64 in a one-sided final.
Earlier Napsa Hurricanes had won all their group games after dispatching ZEGU 41-28 & Giants 59-33 before reaching the final.
The new kids on the block Basket Hounds from Harare also did likewise in the group games by beating Black Rhinos 30-16 and the hosts Lakers 64-48.
Basket Hounds showed poise and class by outshining the Zambian pensioners in a thrilling final to claim their second gold in only their second major tournament after winning the Harare Basketball Association preseason tournament just a few weeks ago.
Innocent Zvomwa was elated after being crowned the Most Valuable Player.
“It was a good experience, we enjoyed ourselves playing the game we love the most, I would love to thank my coach and my teammates for fighting together as one,” said Zomwa.
Basket Hounds head coach, Russell Nemutambwe, was happy with his charges’ performances during the tournament.
“The tournament was a good way for us to bond as a team and find our ways. We are still trying to find our foot but slowly but surely we are getting there. The boys started off the tournament on a high though I wasn’t there for the group stages but they did well trusting the system and showed maturity playing without my supervision and still getting the desired results,” Nemutambwe said.
“Our fitness and execution was the X factor in this tournament, our 3rd quarters have been strong because of our rotation. Winning this tournament is a baby step to where we want to be (national champions). We will try our level best to take part in as many tournaments Overall I’m a happy coach both on and off the court, the boys are so disciplined. Big thanks to Lakers for hosting such an amazing event,” he added.
The women’s competition was won by the seasoned Lakers Mzansi team following a 47-24 win over tournament debutants City Towers.
The newly formed Bulawayo outfit City Towers had earlier finished top of Group B after outclassing Highlanders Swishers before proceeding to face the hosts Lakers in the final.
Lakers Mzans had also beaten all the teams they faced in the build-up to the final and were ultimately too strong for City Towers in the decider.
Tournament coordinator and Lakers Coach Skhumbuzo Ndlovhu thanked Mzansi Express, Talenvision Holdings, Glen Lodge, Supermed Pharmacy, Hamara Foods, Sneaker Hub as well as Silwane Tours & Safari for the support and assistance rendered in making the event a success.