03 October, 2023
26 November
Game Report
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Nkosinathi Sibanyoni powers Cape Town Tigers to 2024 BAL


JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - South African champions Cape Town Tigers became the second team in the East Division Elite 16 to seal a slot in next year's Basketball Africa League (BAL) after seeing off Madagascar's COSPN 67-63 in a highly entertaining match played on Saturday, 25 November at Ellis Park Arena, Johannesburg. 

The Mlungisi Ngwenya-led side will be making their third appearance in a row in the elite men's club basketball competition now in its fourth edition. 

25-year-old power forward Nkosinathi Sandile Sibanyoni, known in South Africa basketball circles as 'Nathi', was the star of the show, keeping his side in the match with a game-high 21 rebounds and 5 blocks while scoring 14 points in just over 36 minutes on the floor.

In a low-scoring first quarter, Tigers led 12-5 but allowed the Malagasy representatives to go on an 8-point streak that gave them the lead at 13-12. Lebesa Selepe drew a foul with a fraction of a second to score two of the resulting three shots and take the hosts ahead 14-13 at the end quarter. 

Coach Mlungisi's charges scored 8, two from threes and a mid-range jumper, in the last two minutes of the second quarter to pull away from a 28-25 close game and head for the halftime break with a 36-25 advantage. 

Samuel 'Mike' Adewunmi, who had a quiet first half, managing a single basket in the two quarters, orchestrated COSPN's attempt at a comeback, scoring 16 in the second half as his side lost the match in the final minute of the clash, thanks to some costly turnovers. 

TURNING POINT: A 22-12 second-quarter performance for the South African champions gave COSPN an uphill task of playing catch up in the second half, but that seemed to light up a fire for the Madagascar side as they went 19-18 

Nkosinathi Sandile Sibanyoni

HERO: Nathi, who tied on 14 points with Cartier Diarra, takes the honours for pulling down 21 boards and 5 blocks to deny COSPN's comeback. 

STATS DON'T LIE: 38 points on the paint for Tigers against 28 for coach Julien Chaignot's charges was the only statistic Mlungisi's charges dominated. COSPN's bench did an amazing job in their attempt at a comeback, going 30-12 ahead but it was not enough. The stats, however, do not begin to tell the exciting action witnessed at the Ellis Arena between the two sides. 

BOTTOM LINE: COSPN go again on Sunday in the Third-Place match with an opportunity to become the second team from Madagascar, after GNBC in 2021, to make it to BAL. They play Burundi's Dynamo as Cape Town take on City Oilers in the decider for the Elite 16 East Division champion. 

WHAT WAS SAID: "Our plays in the first half did not work so we had to change that in the second half, take care of the rebounds and get back to our system while also matching their physicality to maintain our lead and win." - Lebohang Mofokeng, Cape Town point guard. 

"We struggled to share the ball in the first half and our shooting was also below par. For now, I don't have a clear picture of what happened so I will be analysing the stats and watching the film as we re-strategise for the third-place match."- Julien Chaignot, head coach COSPN.