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Mo626 battle lines drawn

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By Ronald Mpaso:

Students from various tertiary education institutions across the country will today take a break from their studies to engage in a battle for slots in the semifinals of the K62 million National Bank of Malawi Mo626 Ice College Basketball tournament.

Some 16 teams are expected to line up against each other in the elite eight phase today at Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) in Thyolo District after grueling contests at zonal level that started in November last year.

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Ahead of today’s games, Basketball Association of Malawi (Basmal) grouped the teams in two pools of four each in both the ladies’ and men’s categories.

The ladies’ category has a fixture between Polytechnic and University of Livingstonia followed by a showdown involving Malawi Assemblies of God University (Magu) and hosts Must, both games in Pool A.

African Bible College and Zomba Institute of Management and Accountancy will headline Pool B action in the category before a mouthwatering game between Catholic University and Bunda.

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In the men’s category, Poly and DMI will throw off Pool A action before Magu and Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA) Blantyre Campus take to the court.

The first game in Pool B will be between MCA Lilongwe and Chanco, followed by a titanic contest between hosts Must and Bunda.

Magu Team Manager, Wills Chioko, said it is excited to have both his ladies’ and men’s teams competing in the elite eight.

Chioko said the two teams’ qualification is an indication that the Lilongwe-based university’s sports revolution is on course.

“We are on a campaign to turn Magu into a centre of sports excellence and qualification of the two teams is a sign of progress. It is pleasing that our teams keep improving with every game.

“We have worked on defending and shooting for both teams. We also need speed to catch our opponents by surprise. But our confidence is high and we will go through,” he said.

An official from DMI, Rodney Mlauzi, said he expects a tough tournament considering that all teams that have qualified are good.

“We do not expect to win on a silver platter. We sweated to make the elite eight and it will be tougher at this stage. But we are ready for any opponent having trained hard throughout. We know that there will not be easy games and we must be at our best to deliver,” Mlauzi said.

Basmal vice General Secretary, Banthari Banda, said to ensure compliance with rules of the competition, the association issued identity cards to all players of the 16 teams.

“We will enforce the use of identity cards for all games up to the finals. Players without identification will not be allowed to play,” Banda said.

After today’s games, action will move into the semifinal and final stages on April 5 and 6, respectively, at Chancellor College in Zomba.

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