Over the weekend the Durban basketball community came together to compete in The Winter Basketball Tournament co-sponsored by the Ethekwini Basketball Association and Durban University of Technology (DUT). The tournament consisted of ten teams with strong representation from around the Durban area including teams from (1) Lamontville, Umlazi, and Molweni; (2) local schools such as DUT and Durban High School (3) a team composed of players from the Duzi Royals and Kwazulu Marlins, both local pro teams from the Basketball National League SA and; (4) the Peace Players International Doves. The event was a perfect demonstration of the relatively small yet growing and passionate basketball community of Durban.
Each team played four games in pool play with the top two from each pool advancing to the semi-finals. In Pool 1, Umlazi put on a strong showing going 4-0 by narrowly defeating DUT (3-1 record) by 6 to win the pool. In Pool 2, the PPI-SA Doves fell to the local pro team by 12 in its only loss in pool play and took 2nd place.
In the first semi-final of the evening, the local pro team dispatched of DUT, winning by double digits. The second semi-final started off close, but as time wore on PPI began to pull away, eventually winning by a score of 97-76 and setting up the re-match everyone in the gym had been waiting for.
The stage was set for a David vs. Goliath type match-up; after playing five games over the course of two days leading up to this point each team and even the fans were exhausted. The championship game started with the teams going back and forth with the pro’s opening up a 6 point lead heading into halftime. Three minutes into the 2nd half, the lead ballooned to thirteen and PPI was forced to call a quick time out. Many in the gym thought it was all over at this point. They had seen this recipe from the pro team before, making a habit of blowing teams out after the break and cruising to an easy victory. However there was something different about this game; PPI answered the call and came out of the time-out with a 6-0 run. The pro’s continued to hold a slight lead throughout the 4th, and with 2 minutes left were up 6 points, but again PPI refused to go away. After a quick fury of scores and stops, PPI found themselves up 1 with just over 20 second to go and on the line for four free throws after a foul and technical foul call. Making three of four, PPI took a four point lead that would not be relinquished, and after trading free throws, the pro’s couldn’t get a final shot off as the PPI Doves became the new Basketball Kings of Durban with a 68-66 win. It was a victory whose meaning and passion can only be fully captured by PPI staff:
“Taking home the Winter Basketball Tournament Championship is a fantastic qualifier for what PPI-SA does as an organization. It shows that as a grassroots organization we not only bring the expertise of peace-building and bridging divides but of basketball skill and coaching as well” – Ntobeko Ngcamu
“It was amazing to see the representation of PPI alumni from different communities around Durban, playing at such a high level. PPI had representatives on nearly half the teams including Durban High School, Lamontville, Molweni and Umlazi. Winning the championship and our representation showed that PPI is a force to be reckoned with on the Durban and South African basketball scene” – Mtu Zulu
“It was against all odds that we were able to pull out this victory. Facing a younger, bigger and deeper team comprised of mostly pro players, who were playing only their third game of the day (compared to PPI’s fourth). It was our courage and refusal to give up that proved to be the winning formula. As a basketball organization who uses the sport to bridge divides throughout Durban we wanted to win this championship for the kids and communities that we work with every single day.” – Ryan Douwie