Ndola Blazers put up an impressive performance to beat rivals St Mary’s Gangsters 56-39 and eventually emerged champions of the K250 000 Zomba City Neighbourhood versus Neighbourhood Basketball Trophy.
The scintillating final match took place at Mulunguzi Secondary School basketball court and was largely patronised by a youthful crowd. Among the distinguished guests were national basketball coach Blair Phiri and sponsor of the trophy Joseph Chikwemba.
Mindful of their first defeat in the competition last week to Zinkhandwe from Cobbe Barracks, Ndola were in swashbuckling form from the onset. Joseph Nankwenya, Emmanuel Lembi who was also voted the ‘Most Valuable Player’ and Dan Mponda registered brilliant three-point baskets to unassailable lead in the first two quarters.
However, St Mary’s reciprocated with fast-breaks in the last two quarters to unsettle their rivals. Led by their captain Patson Samu and Peter Polenkis, they managed to reduce the gap but Ndola were unrelenting.
Speaking before prize presentation ceremony, Chikwemba said he was overwhelmed with the response by the youth in the city.
“This trophy was meant for youths from various townships within the city. It was encouraging to note that the youths had something to do especially during the just ended school holiday. I am going to come back with another sponsorship in due course but let me ask the corporate world to assist the youth with a reasonable amount of
sponsorship,” he said.
Youth basketball director Hope Chisamanga said a total of about seven teams joined the competition and promised to lobby for sponsorship of a league.
He also cited lack of equipment such as balls, uniform and poor infrastructure as some of the contributing factors affecting the game of basketball.
Ndola received K30 000 as champions whereas St Mary’s went away with K20 000 as runners-up. Zinkhandwe came third and received K10 000.