WINDHOEK – Despite going into their opening match as underdogs against highly ranked Botswana in the ongoing Debmarine Namibia Senior International Netball Pent Series, hosts Namibia came out with guns blazing following a somewhat sluggish start in their penultimate match of the mini tourney.
The 5-day four-nation tournament pits hosts Namibia against Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe after Uganda pulled out at the eleventh hour – citing logistical hiccups.
Uganda’s unfortunate last-minute withdrawal obliged event organisers to hastily draft in the Namibian Development A-Team as replacement to fill the gap.
The revamped ‘Desert Jewels’, as the national senior netball team is fondly known amongst its ardent fans, had the appreciative large crowd on the edge of their seats at the packed to the rafters Patrick Iyambo Police College netball courts in Olympia, south of Windhoek, on Saturday.
It was a game of contrasting tales, with the hosts slightly on the back foot in the opening stages of an otherwise entertaining match never witnessed in our neck of the woods in a very long time. Action swung from end to end with the scoreboard exchanging turns as both sets of goal attackers went on the rampage, rattling the baskets with a certain measure of breathtaking brutality.
Urged on by a partisan crowd, Namibia should have built up a comfortable healthy lead going into the 2nd quarter, had it not been for the lukewarm goal attempts that went astray via the jittery hands of the usually lethal goal attacker Anna Kasper.
The latter had an otherwise off day at the office by her own standards, as she constantly misdirected gilt-edge goal-scoring opportunities from within striking range – much to the chagrin of the boisterous home crowd.
At the other end, the fired-up Zebra Mares were not to be overawed by the intimidating crowd as they launched dangerous attacks of their own with their traditional quick passing game – only to falter in the final quarter, allowing the hosts the lion’s share of turnover balls in the process.
Spearheaded by the amazing fancy footwork of sharp-eyed pocket size slippery centre Cherlyn Muesee, the hosts were slowly propelled to grow in confidence
Namibia took a slender one-goal cushion at the end of the first quarter (10-9) and could have killed the contest but squandered a 7-goal lead in the 2nd quarter to finish at 22-20.
Nonetheless, Mansie Tjivera’s Babes stretched their lead to 5 goals upon completion of the 3rd quarter (34-29) and the unavoidable introduction of serial net rattler Mamikie Tjiroze added a new dimension to the hosts’ attacking options.
As the match wore on, the tie eventually swung in Namibia’s favour as the hosts emerged deserved winners by 50 baskets to 36. The result put Namibia firmly in the driving seat with three matches to spare.
Overall, Namibia fashioned 69 goal-scoring attempts and succeeded with a total of 50 goal attempts – courtesy of Kasper’s 76.1 % accuracy rate (35 goals from 46 attempts) and Vendjii Katjaimo’s 68.4% (13 goals from 19 attempts).
Final quarter entrant Tjiroze manufactured a 100% shooting accuracy rate with two goals from the same number of goal attempts. Meanwhile, the hastily assembled Namibian Development A-Team put up a gallant performance before going down 39-57 against Zambia.
In yesterday’s action Zambia recorded their 2nd win of the mini tournament – dispatching Botswana by 58 goals to 41 to move top of the log table.
Namibia narrowly lost by 61 goals to 62 in a nail-biting high-scoring match against Zimbabwe.
The 5–day netball tourney is contested on a round robin basis with each participating nation playing against each other to determine the overall winner upon completion of the competition on Wednesday.