The USSA Basketball National Championships held at the University of Pretoria from 30 June – 4 July 2014 were full of exciting moments; from laughter to singing to chanting to crying to bonding.  There was a lot of synergy in the air amongst the team.

The CPUT Cats have created a new culture for themselves.  Suddenly we are now united in song; we are a team that sings and chants together in unison led by Freshman Luthando Limba.  Team spirit vibe is on another level right now.  After Coach Thierry Kita left the CPUT Cats for greener pastures at NBA Africa, who would have thought we would achieve what we have thus far?  Majority of the players from 2013 are no longer part of the student team for various reasons.

I couldn’t have scripted this story any better.  It is just incredible what Coach Masie Ntlali has managed to accomplish since taking over the reigns as the Head Coach of the CPUT Cats.  With 3 senior players and 8 rookies, nobody would have ever thought that our first loss of the year in all USSA competitions would be against the undisputed and defending champions VUT.  Who can be ashamed from loosing to the undefeated defending champions?  We can only be proud of the camaraderie spirit that was displayed on and off the court by our players.

The CPUT Cats new generation team have surpassed everybody’s expectations of defeating everybody there is to beat on their quest to the top.  It didn’t come easy for the team to get to where they are today.  It took sheer hard work and dedication to get to this point.

The players are guided by the team principles to do this well.  They played hard, they played smart, they played together, and lastly they had fun.  Winning is just a bonus for the Cats.  As long as they do what needs to be done according to the team principles, all shall fall into place.  The Men’s team scored an average of 68.8 points per game and conceded 51.4 points per game.  The Ladies team scored an average of 81 points per game and conceded 32.5 points per game throughout the whole tournament.

The CPUT Cats ladies team had a great tournament until they met the Wits dream team which eliminated the Cats and went onto win they finals by defeating the defending champions VUT.  The Cats defeated UCT to clinch Bronze medal.  The UCT ladies had a great tournament and shocked a lot of people when they eliminated the hosts Tuks.  It was refreshing to see a different team win for a change for the second time since 2010.  Wits stepped up their game when they came from behind to defeat VUT with only 2 minutes to play.  Their number 10 Modiegi celebrated her birthday in style when she was awarded Most Valuable Player of the tournament.  She was a thorn in the VUT defence.

Veranique #Vee Samuels had a great tournament.  She was voted by other coaches to become part of the 2014 USSA Basketball All Stars.  In Basketball, 5 players get voted as the best of the best throughout the tournament.  The 6th person is voted as the Most Valuable Players of the tournament.  Ms Samuels scored an average of 12.67 points per game throughout the tournament.  Both Chad Smitsdorff and Bonga #Hotstove11 Kalipa from the Men’s team were voted All Stars as well.  Chad had an average of 10.80 points per game and #Hotstove11 had an average of 17 points per game.  The highest scorer in the CPUT Cats teams both male and female was Sophy #Lowizzy Ngobeni with an average of 20.67 points per game throughout the tournament.

Boston Media House almost caused the biggest upset in the history of the game by defeating VUT Men’s team but lack of experience and a bit of excitement cost them the game.  It was their first time taking part in this tournament and they got eliminated in the first round.  The game against VUT was a must win for them to make it into the next round.  This game was one of the most exciting games of the tournament.

CPUT Cats after receiving their Silver Medals #USSA2014

CPUT Cats after receiving their Silver Medals #USSA2014

During Game 1 against DUT both Chad and #Hotstove11 dropped double digits in the bucket.  The biggest highlight is that every single player managed to score in the Men’s team.  Rookie Sifundile Sokujika had a 100% success rate in Field Goal 2 points.  #Hotstove11 had 6 rebounds and Idris #Mon3y Kayembe had 10 rebounds.  It seems like the Cats have started a new tradition for themselves of winning game 1 of USSA National Championships by 20 points since 2013.   Final score was 68-48.  During the ladies first game against UL 3 players dropped double digits. Nomfusi Rewu (11), Vee (12) and Lowizzy (23).  The Ladies won by 41 points margin.  Final score was 73-32.

Game 2 against CUT Men’s highlight is that everybody managed to score and 3 players dropped double digits.  Emmanuel #Ted Tonye (11), #Hotstove11 (12) and Simphiwe #SpinMan Benge (18) were on fire.  Eugene #E-Jay Beya had a career high of 6 rebounds and #Ted had 8 rebounds respectively.  The biggest highlight of the game was the moment Vuyo #Vuzu Vellem hit an ankle breaking in and out crossover on a player from CUT and released the ball to Sifundile who scored a layup.  We caught it all on camera.  Visit our Youtube channel to see the video.  The Cats annihilated CUT with a margin of 56 points.  The final score was 84-28.  The Ladies game against TUT had 4 players dropping double digits Lungile #Lungsta Mtsweni (10), Mpho #AnkleBreaker Seswa (12), #Lowizzy (16) and #Vee (31).  The Ladies won by a humongous margin of 78 points.  The final score was 96-18.

Game 3 for the Men was their quarterfinal match against UKZN who were determined to cause an upset.  Sarp #Bart Sozeri played his best game since joining the Cats with a USSA career high of 14 points and 9 rebounds.  Other players that brought their A game were Matthew Metz on defence; #Mon3y with 6 rebounds; Chad with 15 points and 5 rebounds and #Hotstove11 with 15 points and 7 rebounds.  Cats won with a margin of 25 points.  The final score was 78-53.  The Ladies had an interesting game against UFS.  #Vee dropped 11 points, #Lungsta 14 points and #Lowizzy dropped 31 points.  #Lowizzy was like an inferno against the UFS ladies.  Ladies team won with a margin of 35 points.  The final score was 74-39.

Game 4 for the Men was their semifinals against UJ whom we defeated in game 1 in 2013 by 20 points so they had a score to settle with their new coach.  The Cats proved that they were mentally strong so they came prepared for war.  Cats beat UJ with a single digit margin of 9 points.  The interesting thing is that their team didn’t change much from 2013 and we beat them with our new team of 8 rookies and 3 senior players.  Final score was 64-55.  #Bart was out with an injury caused by a spider so the guys dedicated the win to him.  This game was the Ladies’s quarterfinals against a relentless UJ team that became known as that team that comes back from behind and win with several seconds left.  Our Ladies were ready for these tactics and managed to hold them to a 55-29 and qualified for the semifinals against Wits.  Cats won with a margin of 26 points.  Only #Lungsta (13) and #Lowizzy (19) managed to score double digits in this game.

Game 5 for the Men was their Finals match against the defending champions VUT.  This was for the second time Cats face VUT in the USSA National Championships Finals since 2010.  As a team the Cats everything there is to achieve until thus far.  Majority of the VUT players currently play in the BNL which is a professional league in South Africa.  On the day only Chad and #Hotstove11 managed to show up.  They delivered an impressive performance which caught the attention of other coaches, players and the Basketball community at large.  #Hotstove11 hit the only slam dunk of the game.  He scored 17 points and made 8 rebounds.  As a captain he led from the front. Chad pulled off some amazing jump stops and drove in to score some difficult team in VUT.  He scored 13 points in the finals.  Cats lost by a margin of 23 points and the final score was 50-73.  This was the Ladies semifinals against Wits.  The Ladies from Wits brought their A game on the day.  They had a well balanced team.  Our Ladies struggled against Wits suffered their first loss in all USSA competitions since January.  Final score was 44-54 and they lost with a margin of 10 points.  #Vee scored 11 points and Wits managed to contain #Lowizzy on defence to score a tournament low of 13 points.

CPUT Cats Ladies team with the SRC Members

CPUT Cats Ladies team with the SRC Members

The Cats Ladies regrouped and played a Cape Town derby for the 3rd and 4th play-offs against UCT.  Nandipha #Speedy Tshali showed up with a tournament high of 12 points.  #Lowizzy was back doing what she does best with a total of 22 points in the bucket.  Cats beat UCT 60-23 to clinch bronze, one position lower than 2012 and 2013.  With teams that we have, we have done extremely well with the limited resources at our disposal.  The presence and support from our Local SRC was felt and we highly appreciate it.  They sang their lungs out and chanted day-in-day-out until the last day.

The future of Basketball and the CPUT Cats looks bright indeed.  Our Sport Administrator Ms Annelie Swarts deserves a special mention.  She has been there for us since day 1.  Now we need the full support of the CPUT Management as Basketball is the Flagship Sport of the Institution.  We continue to shine and fly the CPUT flag high.  The technical team have built a solid foundation for both the teams to thrive.  CPUT Cats family is an Elite organisation thanks to those who have come before us.  We are what we are because of other people.  From the female Team Manager Rebecca Moloto; to the newly appointed SA Ladies National team head coach Kimathi Toboti; to the men’s  Assistant Coach Myc Makada; to Comunication Officer of the team Matome #CoachDukes Mokoena and lastly the Under 20 Men’s National Team Head Coach Masie Ntlali all have done a sterling job in carrying on the CPUT Cats Legacy forward.

I guess it is safe to say Basketball is alive and well in CPUT, Cape Town, South Africa!