03 October, 2023
26 November
11 Harisson Banda (UNZP), 0 Alpha Solondrainy (GNBC)
13/10/2023
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Banda and Suns fired up and ready to roll in Road To BAL qualifiers

 

LUSAKA (Zambia) Munali Suns forward Harrison Banda believes his team can surpass expectations at the Road To BAL 2024 qualifiers in Gaborone, Botswana (18 October - 22 October).

Banda is confident of the Zambian Basketball League champions Munali's chances of making it to the Elite 16 Division East. He told FIBA.basketball the Suns are bustling with young and hungry players.

The former UNZA Pacers player also says his current team is well-prepared for the coming battles in Botswana.

"Each day, we have had training sessions in the morning and evening. When I was with UNZA in 2019 (Road To BAL 2020 qualifiers in South Africa), our preparation was not as intense... We trained two or three times a week. I feel this team (Munali) has put in the required effort. We are not going there to participate. We want to find ourselves at the BAL," said the Zambian international.

"Our team is very young, and the players are eager to win. They also want to make names for themselves. To them it's not just about playing basketball, they are using it to change their lives."

Harisson Banda featured for University Zambia Pacers during the 2019 Qualifiers for the BAL 

While the youthful zest will fire up the Suns, there will also be some veteran experience to provide calm in tense situations.

Banda will play alongside former UNZA teammates Paul Kashishi and Titus Mapani, who played in the 2019 Elite 16 tournament.

Being a senior player and having played on this stage in 2019, scoring 11.4 points and grabbing 8.7 rebounds, the 26-year-old Banda understands that a lot will rest his shoulders and other wiseheads.

"The pressure is there because of my experience. As the saying goes, 'to whom much is given, much is expected'. So, I have been trying to guide the guys on how to go about this process. I have helped to instil that self-belief that they can do it. They can also be there," said Banda, the reigning MVP of the Zambian league. "

Banda says winning the individual accolade has given an impetus to up his game. As he heads to Gaborone, he feels wiser than four years ago.

"Being back (to Road To BAL) is a huge opportunity. I know what to do this time around and what not to do. Also, winning the MVP is a motivating factor. It means I stood out in our league. If I can do it here at home, it means I can do it over there (Botswana) as well," said Banda.

Back to team matters. Ahead of the BAL qualifiers, the Suns have landed two Americans, Joshua Thomas and Alfred Hollins Jr.

Banda says their early arrival will help them mesh well with the team.

"It was crucial that they (Hollins Jr and Thomas) arrived early... Because we have seen situations where guys come the day before the tournament to play. That tends to disrupt the team. They (Hollins Jr and Thomas) needed time to train with us, understand our system and immerse themselves in the team culture," concluded Banda.

Group D

Dolphins (Botswana), Brave Hearts (Malawi), UNAM Wolves (Namibia), Munali Suns (Zambia) and JBC (Zimbabwe).

Fixtures:

October 18: Munali Suns vs Dolphins; Unam Wolves vs Bravehearts

October 19: Dolphins vs JBC; Munali Suns vs Braveheart

October 20: Braveheart vs JBC; Unam Wolves vs Munali Suns

October 21: Dolphins vs Unam Wolves; JBC vs Munali Suns

October 22: Braveheart vs Dolphins; JBC vs Unam Wolves

The best-placed team at the end of the Group play qualifies automatically to the Elite 16.

FIBA