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Lesotho basketball team off to a bad start

Leemisa Thuseho

LESOTHO’S women basketball team got off to a dismal start in the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Games losing 2-116 to Angola in their opening game at Lehakoe Recreational Centre yesterday. Lesotho went into the game subdued after seven of its layers tested positive for Covid-19 and were therefore ineligible to play. In the end, the side played without reserves as only five players were available for selection.

While the home side was hoping to rise to the occasion, Angola were ruthless and went 1-24 in the first five minutes. Lesotho struggled to match the opponent and the first quarter ended with Angola leading 1-44. In the second quarter, Angola continued dominating possession and converted every attempt keeping Lesotho down.

Lesotho’s challenges only worsened in the same quarter as Sebongile Tlali was forced off the court after committing five fouls. A few minutes later, Senate Letsie was forced off by an injury while Thato Molise also fouled out. This left Lesotho with only two players on the court and Angola was leading 2-88.

The game was only called off towards the end of the third quarter with the score at 2-116 after another Lesotho player, Lerato Motipi, also fouled out. The game was therefore ended in line with the rules which stipulate that a match can only be called off after a team is left with one player on the court.

Lesotho coach, Thabang Letlala, said that they knew from the onset that the game was going to be tough as they were playing the defending champions. However, after a Covid-19-induced crisis, they resolved not to withdraw the team because they thought the available players needed the experience to play at an international level.

“It was difficult playing without a complete team against the defending champions,” Letlala said. “We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy but there were a few things we wanted to achieve. We wanted to give our players experience.” At the end, the coach advised his players to commit fouls to get the game called off instead of “humiliating themselves”.

Letlala expressed hope that when his players test again today, the results will come back negative. Meanwhile, the men’s team also lost 17-89 to Zambia.

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