MERCENARIES basketball team brought pride to the province after they settled for third place at the just-ended Basketball Union of Zimbabwe National Champions.
Midlands State University played host to the four day sport extravaganza.
In the male category, Mutare was represented by Mercenaries and Dangamvura Knights while Dangamvura Knights represented the ladies.
A total of 36 teams participated in both males’ and females’ categories. Mercenaries were in Pool D together with Dangamvura Knights, Hustlers, Warriors and Cameo. Having gone into the competition as underdogs, Mercenaries emerged as a force to reckon with after winning all their group matches to book a place in the semi finals.
They dismissed Cameo 67-35 in their opening match before edging Hustlers 56-46. They went on to beat Dangamvura Knights 51-32.
Mercenaries continued with their giant killing act and defeated Warriors 62-42 to book a place in the quarter-finals.
They clashed with JBC and won 59-44 to progress to the semi finals where they met Raiders.
However, their fine run to the final was cut short in the semi-finals when they failed to overpower Raiders who beat them 64-49.
Mercenaries went on to play the third-and-fourth play-offs against Giants and won 55-16 to take home the bronze medal.
Dangamvura Knights men found the going too tough and failed to secure a berth in the quarter-finals. In their opener, Dangamvura Knights dismissed Warriors 50-22 before suffering a 61-32 defeat in the hands of their brothers Mercenaries. They went on to lose 51-36 to Cameo. Their campaign ended in the group stages.
In the ladies category, Dangamvura Knights was in Pool B together with Green Stars, Vixens and Angels. They lost their matches against Green Stars and Angels 53-16 and 41-30 respectively.
The final in the men’s category saw Foxes winning the trophy convincingly with a 80-66 win over Raiders. In the ladies category, Vixens narrowly edge Lakers 44-43.
Manicaland Basketball Association president Tonde Shasha said Mutare teams lack exposure since they play few games due to few teams in the league.
“Our three teams lacked exposure. We have few teams in our leagues and it really affected us. Some teams that we faced had some foreign players but we are limited due to resources.
“We will have tournaments and invite teams from Harare and Bulawayo. We will also send the provincial teams to Mozambique so that we also learn from our neighbouring country. Mozambique is a basketball powerhouse in Africa and we as Manicaland should take advantage of that. Manicaland will be hosting the national Championships and we hope to do better next year this means we need to start working now. We have 12 months and work begins now,” said Shasha.