In-form Southern Region Rainbow Paints Blantyre and District Netball league defending champions Kukoma Diamonds have finished their first round campaign on top of the table with 20 points from 10 games to maintain a 100 percent unbeaten record after walloping their rivals First Choice Tigresses with 40-33 baskets in a Blantyre derby netball crucial encounter played on Saturday at Blantyre Youth Centre.
Dimaonds taking on Tigresses on Saturday Supporters cheers their team Kukoma Dianond player hold the ball Dimaonds taking on Tigresses on Saturday Kukoma Diamonds celebrate
Hanjahanja: Very goood first round
The two teams were tied on 18 points but Diamonds was on top position after recording a highest number of baskets.
As it has been the case in the previous meetings the Saturday match attracted yet another massive patronage of netball fans who filled BYC netball court to its maximum capacity.
Keeping in mind the impact of the game, the two technical panels had to play their cards safe by featuring all their reliable and influential weapons.
Diamonds head coach Griffin 'Zagaro' Saenda Senior believed in the usual notable services of multi-talented stars Towera Vinkhumbo and Shirra Dimba, Caroline Ntukule Ngwira, Bridget Kumwenda, Alinafe Kamwala, Jessica Mazengera Sanudi and Annabel Phiri
While Tigresses team lead by head coach Peace Chawinga Kalua had their hopes in Beauty Chirwa Basiyao, Grace Mwafulirwa, Beatrice Mpinganjira, upcoming young star Cathy Khofi, Sindie Simutowe, Tendai Masamba and Florence Chirwa Chagonapanja.
In their first quarter the two sides started the match with a massive counter attack as they were invading into the centre half's wave after wave.
Diamonds started knocking on Tigresses door by banging fast baskets through their unstoppable shooter Alinafe Kamwala who was in her top performance and a marvel to watch on the day.
Using her individual skills and height advantage Kamwala looked very brilliant on the ball and did not disappoint suppliers of the balls Jessica Sanudi and Bridget Kumwenda as she converted every pass into a basket and helped her side to lead the quarter with 11-7 baskets.
But although they were trailing Tigresses enjoyed a massive possession and produced a good entertaining play in the second quarter and created a number of scoring opportunities but their shooter Tendai Masamba who was playing her first derby after leaving Serenity Stars lacked confidence in the box as she missed a number of clear chances.
Later, Diamonds players organised after receiving a pep talk from their coaches and made some counter attacks that assisted them to punish their rivals in the second quarter which ended 20-16 baskets.
The Chawinga-Kalua side which has been suffering several defeats in the hands of Diamonds for more than three consecutive seasons now made the first quick substitution by taking out their Centre, Cathy Khofi, who was replaced by Ellen Chibokho.
The substitution brought some positive change as the team added more pressure and started winning a lot of balls which also disturbed Diamonds defence and managed to reduce the baskets in the third quarter which also went to Diamonds with 29-26.
Despite having poor coordination among the centre attackers Diamonds maintained the same line up as they did not made any substitution up to the end and this gave an added advantage to
Tigresses pressure especially in the last minutes of the fourth quarter where the team kept on playing in Diamonds half.
But Diamonds utilised on Tigresses poor target from their shooters and scored quick baskets with few minutes to put the match at 40-33 baskets after the final whistle.
Speaking after the match Diamonds Vice coach Noel Mussa thanked his players for putting up a gallant fight and collecting the needed maximum points.
"We had a very bad day in the office today in terms of play because we failed to play our usual game but that's what normally happens in derby matches. Despite leading in all the quarters I must accept that our friends were more than good especially at the centre because it is the only last quarter where I saw our players displaying our usual performance. But all in all what we wanted was nothing but a win and I'm very excited for remaining as the only unbeaten team in the league," said Mussa.
Tigresses head coach Chawinga-Kalua accepted the defeated and praised her girls for dominating the possesion.
"The team really played well but I think lucky was not on our side. Off course we had weaknesses in our wings but we'll try to rectify them during the break period," said Chawinga-Kalua.
She further insisted that the defeat will not demoralise their morale and hopes of clinching the 2019 league but will be a yard stick which will be used to correct all the mistakes so that they should come strong in the second round.
Meanwhile, BDNL General Secretary Annie Hanjahanja has described the first round campaign as a successful one in all the areas which include, level of competition among the teams, discipline as well as officiation.
"We are looking forward to see more than that in the second. It is not an easy thing to have such a beautiful and interesting first round but we are promising that we'll try our level best to maintain the skills we have to make the second round more colour than this," said Hanjahanja.
In her remarks Rainbow Paints Sales Manager Jangale Chiosa said she was very much impressed with how the first half of the league has ended.
Chiosa started by appreciating organisers of the league for putting everything in order and finishing the first round in good time as they planned and making sure that the league should be free from any cases to do with discipline and violence.
"I can say that we have brilliant administrators because they are making this league to be interesting and this why we have seen a number of people who patronise Rainbow Paints games increasing in each and every game and no wonder the competitiveness between the teams is just awesome," said Chiosa.
In the other final matches that were played on Saturday Topical Queens registered two wins after beating Chilomoni Sisters 70-23 baskets before they demolishing Serenity Stars 78-20 baskets while Shizaella finished their first round in style after registering a 42-35 baskets win against Chileka Sisters.