Gaborone – Zimbabwean club JBC will hopefully come home to a heroes welcome after bullying their way to qualifying for the Elite 16 Division East in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the final day of the four-team qualifier held in the Motswana capital city of Gaborone.
The Zimbabwean champions will have left Gaborone with a bounce in their step after securing victory (87-50) over Zambia’s Munali Suns.
The conclusion of Group D of the Road To BAL qualifiers were nothing short of thrilling.
Talking to FIBA.basketball, JBC coach and owner Addison Chiware noted that his team had a lot of rust due to a lengthy inactivity, but they stayed committed to their cause.
“We came off a five-month hiatus from competitive matches. We knew our match fitness would be an issue, and it showed in our loss against the Dolphins. We had to shrug off the lethargy and focus on our remaining games,” said Chiware.
Following their win over UNAM Wolves, the former head coach of Zimbabwe men’s national team explained that everything came together ahead of their final game against Munali.
“As a team, this was not a strange situation for us. Coming from our Super 16 competition, where we won all our games (25/25), we knew what had to be done. We trusted our strategy. Everyone was motivated from the morning session. We had rehearsed how we wanted to do this (beat Munali),” said Chiware.
He also spoke on JBC’s historic achievement as no other Zimbabwe team had reached this stage of Road to BAL.
“We feel that a hoodoo is lifted. Like how athletes started to run a mile in under two minutes, I feel that Zimbabwean clubs can also say ‘Yes, we can’. We are happy that we are the first club to get this far and I am sure more will follow,” said Chiware.
As Group D winners, JBC have been drawn in Elite 16 Division East Group B alongside Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique), City Oilers (Uganda) and COSPN (Madagascar).
Meanwhile, Botswana’s Dolphins Basketball Club, who finished second place in Group D and Burundi’s Dynamo, who finished second in Group C, will hope luck smiles on them for the solitary wild card.
The team that gains entry to the Elite 16 via wild card will be in Group A, featuring hosts Cape Town Tigers (South Africa), Pazi Basketball Club (Tanzania) and NBA Academy.
The Elite 16 Division East will run between November 14-19 in Johannesburg, South Africa.