19 October
19 December, 2021
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New Star shine bright, Beira neutralise Cobras' venom


JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - Burundian club New Star shone brightly on Tuesday night in Johannesburg by upsetting Cape Town Tigers in their opening Elite 16 Group H1 East Division match at Wembley Stadium.

The unknown East African club made their mark with an 83-71 victory over the Tigers, with evergreen veterans Alvaro Masa scoring 25 points and Kenny Gasana scoring 20. Small forward Landry Ndikumana made his presence felt by contributing 19 points to New Stars winning effort.


 Spanish player Masa and point guard Guibert Njimbere, who scored 14 points,  gave the Burundi club an early 6-0 lead as both landed their three-pointers.

To their credit, Tigers livened up that fought their way back to take an 11-6 lead by the fifth minute. At the end of the first quarter, New Star were behind by three points (22-19).

It would be the last time the visiting club would find themselves chasing the game, as the upstarts from Burundi turned the heat on their more fancied opponents.

The experience of Masa and Gasana, who both played in the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) tournament, was on full display as they shot the ball well and controlled the tempo of the game. 

Masa, who has been with New Star for a short time, was impressed with how his team played and is confident they can qualify for the BAL.

"I did not know much about the team when I joined them, but I must say they love basketball in Burundi. It was a huge effort. New Star is coming. We have taken a big step towards qualifying for BAL," said Masa.

Kenny Gasana (New Star)

The home side Tigers were disjointed at both ends of the court as they were sluggish on defence and relied on individual play for points. Centre Billy Preston scored 20 points, while Christopher Gabriel scored 10 points.

In Tuesday's first game, Mozambican club Ferroviario Da Beira got off on the right footing by beating Group H 2 East Division opponents Cobra Sports of South Sudan 76-46.

The East Africans looked like they would give the Mozambican team a tough outing as both teams looked evenly matched in the first two quarters. Cobras' Rwandan recruit Dieudonne Ndizeye, who finished the game with 19 points, kept the team in the encounter in the first two quarters.

Nonetheless, Ferroviario went into half-time with a single-digit lead (35-34).

In the third quarter, the Mozambican giants found their rhythm. Their ball movement unsettled the Cobras defence, and with five minutes remaining in the quarter, left the Southern Africans broke away and finished the quarter 55-40 up.

Beira's forwards, Helton Ubisse (17 points) and Ayad Munguambe (10 points) were menacing in the paint and proved too physical for the Cobras.

The Mozambican club's American floor general William Perry came to the party with 16 points, eight blocks and seven rebounds while team captain Ismael Nurmamade, who would suffer an ankle injury, put up an impressive 14 points.   

Beira coach Luis Hernandez felt the opposition put up a good fight in the first half and pointed out the mistakes his players made contributed to Cobras looking good at that point.

"Cobras are a great team. They are an athletic team and have size. We missed open lay-ups because of their effort in defence. In the second half, we adjusted better. We decreased their three-point percentage. We ran a little bit more. More fast breaks and got some easy buckets. That was the difference for us," said Hernandez.