Zimbabwean champions JBC allowed hosts Dolphins to rally from 11 points down at the break to lose 68-65 in their opening Group D match of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) Qualifying Tournament in Botswana on Saturday night.
JBC appeared on course to kickstart their campaign on a winning note as they surged ahead in the opening half of a scrappy encounter.
The Zimbabwean side however ran out of steam as the Dolphins put in a dominant second-half display at the University of Botswana Indoor Arena to prevail.
Tanaka Ndyara’s 15 points and team captain Kesaobaka Ndawanyana and American recruit Paris Collins scored 13 points each as Dolphins secured a memorable three-point victory infront of their fans.
Dolphins looked a more mature outfit than in 2019 and showed a strong display of character.
Despite looking undersized, they made up for that deficiency by consistently contesting rebounds at both ends of the floor.
They were relentless and put their bodies on the line for each point they scored in the paint.
The Zimbabwean club were taller, bigger, stronger, and more clinical as they used the fast-break to good effect.
JBC ended the first half with a 39-28 lead.
In the third quarter, the Botswana club showed some grit as they fought back, scoring 11 points, and found themselves in touching distance (39-41).
The Botswana club stayed in the contest throughout this stage of the game. They would finish the quarter strong with a 52-51 lead.
Dolphins would hold in the fourth quarter to close out the game put themselves in a good position for the rest of the qualifiers.
Meanwhile in an eariler encounter Zambian side Munali Suns kickstarted their campaign with an emphatic 82-55 win over Namibian outfit UNAM Wolves.
It’s still early days in the pre-qualifiers to the main BAL competition, and the Suns, with their polished play, look like a favourite to take the solitary qualifying spot.