Excitement is building up ahead of the much anticipated second edition of the Under 18 (U18) national 3 on 3 Young Lion’s Cup basketball tournament tour which is scheduled to start this coming weekend.
The event, which is coordinated by the International Basketball Foundation (IBF) in conjunction with the Botswana Basketball Association (BBA), will commence with a two day elimination tournament on the 1st and 2nd of September in Gaborone.
At least nine teams comprising of five boys’ teams and four girls’ teams will battle out for the South central region bragging rights.
It is expected that the games will be played in a round robin system, with the boys battling each other for points in one pool and the girls doing the same in the other pool.
From Gaborone, the elimination tour event will then move to Serowe on the following weekend, then Maun and Lobatse simultaneously on the 15th and 16th September before the last eliminations are held in Francistown and Kang regions on the 22nd and 23rd September.
According to the organisers, the regional events, which are an elimination phase, are open for as many teams to register and any U18 basketball player can register to take part.
Upon completion of the elimination phase, winners from regional competition plus 2 teams chosen by coordinators will then qualify for the national championships. The winners of the national championships will then represent the country in the Young Lions Africa tour which will be held in January 2019.
Botswana will compete for the title with Lesotho, Kingdom of Eswatini, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Comoros, Seychelles and Madagascar.
Reached for comment, BBA National Coordinator Shalosh Matsetse said the event is intended to help with the development of skills for young athletes across the country to prepare them for national team level.
He added that the initiative is a long term development program and since it is only the second time they host the event, it is too early to account for results.
The BBA development officer said with the interest and passion shown by local players in the sport, they are hopeful of having a large number of athletes in this year’s competition.
“Last year we had over 300 youngsters taking part and we believe this year the numbers will grow,” he said.
Meanwhile, Matsetse says while the BBA is optimistic that unlike last year’s event when Botswana representatives finished on 4th position at the Young Africa Lions, the country will be going for a podium finish at this year’s event.
He however says there will be no pressure on the local lads to bring medals as the association is more interested in development.
“As BBA we don’t care about the colour of the medal because we don’t want to put pressure on our athletes, BBA’s target is to expose our players to international basketball and compete with the best,” he said.