LEROTHOLI Polytechnic (LP) men’s basketball team successfully defended its National Basketball League (NBL) title after beating Tornado 98ers 61-56 at Maseru Club on Friday.
Affectionately known as Mekonko, LP went into the game already leading 2-1 in the best of five series. The Friday win therefore saw LP registering a 3-1 overall win.
LP had been the favourites from the start being the defending champions taking on a side with no finals experience.
The champions started the play-offs on a high note winning 49-40 in their first game last October. They went on to win their second game by 81-47 before Tornado 98ers won the next game 43-38.
But even then, LP needed just one win to defend their title while a win for Tornado could have seen the campaign extending to the fifth and title decider match.
Speaking to Sunday Express after the victory, LP coach Tumelo Mara, credited the win to his side’s dedication.
The team’s target was to defend its title and he is happy that they did just that.
“Our target was very simple, to win any of the remaining two games and become the champions and that is what we did,” Mara said.
“It was also my birthday today (Friday) and the victory was a great birthday gift to me.”
Although playing Tornado 98ers was not an easy fete, Mara said they were always confident that the league was theirs to lose.
“After winning the first two matches, we were convinced and confident that we are going to win the league. However, we were not taking our opponents for granted.
“It was not easy to beat Tornado especially in the last game. We are going for more glory in the coming season and we want to participate in more events outside the country to improve our competition level.”
On his part, Tornado 98ers coach, Thabang Letlala, said despite the loss, he was happy with his team’s fighting spirit.
“We made a few mistakes that cost us the game but I could see from the bench that the players were out for a fight. Despite the loss, I am happy with the boys. They fought until the finals. Reaching the final was a huge achievement and it speaks to our potential,” Letlala said.
He also believes that the experience gained from the finals will help the team in the new season.
Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA) public relations officer Hopolang Hoala said the trophy and medals handing over ceremony will be held on a yet to be decided date.