The Limpopo Baobabs suffered their first loss of the 2017 Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League (BFNPL) last Friday when they were beaten 74-31 by Gauteng Golden Fireballs at the University of Cape Town Sports Centre.
The Gauteng team were too strong for the Baobabs and lead 39-16 at halftime. Although the Baobabs are a better team than they were a year ago, the Fireballs have also shown a marked improvement.
The Fireballs’ defence and attack were spot-on making it difficult for their opponents to score. It was only in the final quarter, when Baobabs Coach Dumisani Chauke brought her front line players back, that they looked competitive. Scoring only four goals in the third quarter, they nevertheless kept pace with the Fireballs and lost the quarter by only three goals.
A press statement issued by M-Sports Marketing, on behalf of BFNPL Chauke was quoted to have said that her charges seemed to have lost focus against the Fireballs. “I told the players that if we want to succeed in this tournament, we have to play for four quarters. If only my team had played the rest of the match the way they played the final quarter. After the third quarter, I just told them to show some guts and they did,” the statement read.
Chauke reportedly also said one of the reasons that could have led to the poor results is that the players were up against players they idolise and were a bit overawed.
But it is no good saying “Ooh, I am playing against Lindie Lombard or Nadia Uys. Those players have the same three seconds with the ball and the same area to play in. They have to treat them like any other players,” Chauke is quoted to have said.
The team suffered another setback on Saturday when the Gauteng North Jaguars thrashed them 53-27 at the same venue.
Chauke said she was disappointed that her players kept moving away from the game plan. “When they were disciplined and stuck to the game plan, they were fine, but I think they were a bit overawed by some of the big names in the Jaguars’ team too. But I am not too disappointed. They are a young team, and this is how we learn,” Chauke said.
The defeats see the Baobabs fifth in the league ranks with five points after five games.
Their next match will be against the Free State Crinums at University of Cape Town Sports Centre tomorrow (Friday).
Story: Herbert Rachuene