Reigning national and Harare basketball champions Mbare Heat got their campaign at the ongoing Fiba Zone VI Club Championships off to a losing note after were outplayed by Soweto Wild Cats from South Africa at the Mandeville Sports Club in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday night.
Heat, who are the only Zimbabwe club taking part in the tournament were just no match for Soweto Wild Cats, who handed them a 95-73 drubbing to leave them with a mountain to climb as they aim to qualify for the Fiba African Club Championships in Morocco next month.
According to reports from South Africa, the home side used their bigger physical stature to full advantage, dominating all the offensive and defensive rebounds from the onset and limiting Heat to three-point attempts.
The Zimbabweans went for the breather trailing 55-31 and never recovered as the South Africans utilised home advantage to full effect.Mbare Heat were handed a tough draw after being drawn in Pool A alongside Angolan giants Petro De Luanda, Soweto Wild Cats, Pacers from Zambia and Deportivo De Maputo from Mozambique.
Petro De Luanda top Pool A on points difference from Soweto Wild Cats after a 111-63 demolition of Pacers from Zambia in an earlier match on Monday.
Pool B has Primeiro De Agosto from Angola, Maxaquene from Mozambique, Gunslingers NPC from South Africa and Magic Matelo.
The top three teams after the conclusion of the tournament on Monday qualify for the African Club from December 9 to 18 in Morocco.
Heat, who had a chance to regroup yesterday, will be hoping to register their first victory of the tournament when they play Pacers from Zambia at 1500hrs today.
If Mbare Heat are to revive their campaign at this tournament, some of their experienced players like skipper Simbarashe Mungomezi, Eric Banda — last season’s Most Valuable Player Tawanda Chitsinde — and former Jewels guard Brain Hove, will have to come to the party.
Heat, coached by Peter Mubanda, earned the right to represent Zimbabwe at the regional tournament after emerging as top team at the national club championships in Gweru early this year.