03 October, 2023
26 November
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Samkelo stands tall as Tigers qualify for Semi-Finals 


JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - South African champions, Cape Town Tigers are through to the Semi-Finals of the East Division Elite 16 ongoing at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. 

Tigers came from behind to win their match against Tanzania's Pazi 95-87 and become the first side to score more than 90 points in the ongoing East Division Elite 16 qualifier. 

The Mlungisi Ngwenya's charges trailed 25-21 in the opening quarter but Samkelo Cele who failed to score in the opening stanza turned the match in its head with a 16-point performance in the second quarter as Tigers went 29-22 ahead to assume lead. 

It was a very physical game with both teams combining for 18 steals

Pazi were dominated in the third quarter in a 31-19 outcome that gave the hosts a 15- point advantage and despite Pazi winning the last quarter 21-14, it was not enough to turn their tide as they fell by 8 points to set up a must-win clash against familiar foe Dynamo BBC in the final group match. 

TURNING POINT: A 12-point scoring spree in the third quarter gave Tigers a 71-56 advantage with four minutes on the clock, the rally seemingly disorienting Pazi who were already in foul trouble and had to be cautious in their plays. 

HERO: In 29 minutes, Samkelo Cele scored 30 points, shooting 50 percent and above from all areas as he combined well with Gameday 1 hero Terry Larrier for 51 of Tigers' points in the win. 

Sandile Sibanyoni's double-double of 10 points and 15rebounds went a long way for Ngwenya's charges.

Samkele Cele faces Hasheem Thabeet

STATS DON'T LIE: Pazi got in foul trouble early with coach Henry Mwinuka forced to sit star player Hasheem Thabeet out more than he had intended to as the former NBA centre picked three fouls in the opening 11 minutes of the match. 

Tigers bench deserves credit as they contributed 20 points against Pazi's 6 in the win.

Tigers improved to 2-0 ahead of the match against the NBA Academy Africa, a team they lost to in a scrimmage last week

BOTTOM LINE: Pazi must win their final group match against Burundi champions Dynamo, a side they faced in the qualifiers for the Elite 16 in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. 

WHAT THEY SAID: "We fell in foul trouble early and that forced me to change the game plan. Four of my players finished the match with your goals and that affected our defense. My players kept the fight going but we were unable to stop their main scorers.

"However, nothing is lost yet. We still have a chance to make it to the Semi-Final and we will bring the same intensity into the game. We expect a tough match, as was evident in Dar es Salaam during the qualifier but the target is to pick the win and proceed." - Henry Mwinuka, head coach Pazi BBC. 

"We had a slow start but with some adjustments, the players were able to pick up the pace and seal the win. In the knock-out stage, the hope is to improve our shooting to at least 55 percent. 

"The final group stage match against NBA Academy Africa is like a friendly for us as we build up for the semis. I will rotate my squad with that in mind as I also look to rest some go the key players for the semis," Mlungisi Ngwenya, head coach Cape Town Tigers.