Bulawayo – Zimbabwe on Tuesday sent out a message in the opening game of the Zimb after stunning regional powerhouse Mozambique 71-57 in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe center Vitalis Chikoko, who scored 20 of his side’s 71 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and had four blocks to his tally , was instrumental in sparking in his country in front of their home fans.
Kicking off at high speed, the first quarter was the most prolific in the game. It saw the two teams finish 20-18, with Zimbabwe claiming a two-point advantage. At the end of the second quarter, they were still leading (34-31).
In the third quarter, they kept going, adding another 19 points to their total, while it seemed that Mozambique have lost all sense of attacking, scoring only 10 points. Chikoko and company maintained the efforts till the end of the game, finishing the fourth quarter 18-16.
Looking at some figures, Zimbabwe built up their success by scoring from turnovers (15 points), while Mozambique only scored 4 from the same. They have also been more aggressive in the paint, netting 44 points, while Pio Matos and others only scored 28 points.
Zimbabwe is on the verge of becoming Mozambique’s itch. In 2019, they also overcame the tournament’s favorites, but they couldn’t keep their winning ways in the return leg. The question now is: are they capable of keeping the momentum ?
Alongside Chikoko, the combined efforts of Junior Mutongoza (9 points, 1 rebound), Tatenda Muturure (8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal), Noah Pendukah (7 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal), and Tatenda Tswatswa (8 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists), helped Zimbabwe in repeating their 2019 feat.
Mozambique’s top performer of the day was Jeremias Mtamjate, with 12 points and 3 rebounds. Pio Matos and Elves Houana worked hard on the rebounds, each one grabbing 7 during the game.
This crucial win over Mozambique sees Zimbabwe top the men’s standing ahead of their clash against Zambia on Wednesday. They will, however, have to be cautious as they advance if they wish to make it to the FIBA AfroCan in July.