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Basketball team bitter

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Mzuzu-based basketball team, Pistons, has expressed reservations over the manner in which Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) runs national tournaments.

Piston, alongside Nkhulande, will represent the Northern Region at a two-day Basmal National Club Championship scheduled for Lilongwe from tomorrow.

Pistons Manager, Lusubilo Mwangonde, described prizes that winning teams will pocket at the tournament as a mockery.

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He added that, since time immemorial, the region has never hosted a national basketball event.

The winner of the two-day championship, scheduled for African Bible College (ABC) in Lilongwe, will pocket K500, 000.

The runners-up will receive K300,000, with the third best team getting K150,000.

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But Mwangonde said the amounts are on the low side when compared to expenses that teams, based outside Lilongwe, will incur.

“We just participate [in the tournament] for the sake of participating. Otherwise, this tournament does not provide equal opportunities for all teams. Our budget has already hit K700, 000, which is already way behind the amount that the winner will get.

“We travelled to participate in the National Bank of Malawi’s Mo626 College Basketball Tournament in Thyolo District last year. The other year, we were in Blantyre and, this time around, we are on the road again. Basketball authorities should consider rotating these tournaments in all the regions,” he said.

Basmal General Secretary, Edgar Ng’ong’ola, said the idea of scheduling the tournament in Lilongwe, year-in and year-out, is based on factors beyond the association’s control.

He said there are no in-door facilities in Blantyre and Mzuzu that can host games regardless of weather.

“This is the rainy season. And it cannot be healthy for teams to travel all the way from Blantyre for a tournament in Mzuzu, only to be cancelled because of rains. So, in short, we really desire to rotate these tournaments but lack of facilities is the setback.

“And, again, this year’s sponsor, G.Y Imports and Exports, is a Lilongwe-based company. And every sponsor comes up with conditions that, as a national body, we cannot control,” Ng’ong’ola said.

He said the K950,000 generated for the competition was sourced from individuals and companies.

He said that lack of adequate sponsorship remains a big challenge to minority sports, including basketball.

Bravehearts, Cougars and Central Knights will represent the Central Zone Basketball League at the national tournament while Magang’a, Crazy Warriors and Bricks will carry the Southern Zone’s flag.

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