Wits’ women basketball players have outshone their male counterparts in the 2014 season, taking gold in the national league and tying for first place in the provincial league.
The women’s team, Wits Lady Bucks, is now regarded as “the best university team in the country for the 2014 season”, according to team captain Modiegi Mokoka, 3rd year BSc Construction Studies. The team won the University Sports South Africa (USSA) basketball national championships in July.
Since then, the team has continued competing in the Gauteng Women’s Basketball League and the Gauteng University Basketball League (GBUL), in which they tied with the Vaal University of Technology for first place.
The men’s team came third in their division in the USSA national championships.
This year, the women’s team adopted a “win at all costs” system as opposed to the “everyone must play” approach of previous years, said Mokoka. Their successful performance this year was attributed to team work.
“We listened, we had confidence, we executed but, most of all, we played for each other. We went from 4th place to number one in the country. There’s no better progress than that,” she said.
After years of competing in the USSA championships, this was the first time the team took the top title, having progressed from sixth place in 2011 to first in 2014.
“We had faith,” said Patience Gumbo, BHSc Honours in Forensic Science and vice-chairperson of the club. “We wanted to win it. We really were determined this time. We have gone through so much and pushed through so much that we deserved and owed it to ourselves to give it all.”
The core team competed together since 2010, said Gumbo. “Bit by bit, we kind of became who we are now, but we are still growing … We have been improving over the years and winning USSA national championships showed that.”
Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit.
The win had inspired and motivated the team to keep working harder, she said. “The other teams won’t be easier on us and they are just going to keep pushing harder.”
The toughest teams in the competition were Cape Peninsula University of Technology which reached the finals in 2012 and 2013, and Vaal University of Technology (VUT). VUT were national champions for six years in a row, according to Coach William Matlakala, who has coached the women since 2010.
“The biggest pusher was that we were tired of defeat,” said Mokoka. “Losing to VUT constantly by two points since the 2012 season pushed us to our limit.”
She said VUT’s team consisted of national and international players and the entire team was on full sports bursaries (tuition and accommodation). This made it easier for the team to be “basketball orientated”, compared to Witsies who played for the “love of it”.
“VUT and CPUT have scholarships for their players and athletes,” confirmed Matlakala. “We can’t do the same so that has been the main challenge.”
Mokoka said the team’s dynamics were “play as a team to win as a team”, but individuals had opportunities to improve on their own goals. Their plans were to continue their success until the end of 2014 and to develop new players for the new season in 2015.
Coach Matlakala said defending the championship next year would be much harder, but fortunately, only a small number of players were due to graduate at the end of the year. Before the end of 2015, they hoped to recruit new and advanced players.
GUBL games will take place this Sunday, from 9am to 5.45pm at Hall 29.
This article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela