HBA Super Six Gameweek 13 Review: Leopards Academy Edge Mbare Bulls; Blades Settle In


It was an action packed Valentine's week for HBA Super Six Action at the home of premier basketball, Sunrise Sports Club. 

Gameweek 13 matches played on Saturday the 10th, plus two delayed games played on Valentine's day, make it eight games in total this week.

On the court, clubs brought the action to officially start the second half of the Super Six season. 

As we look forward to Gameweek 14, the standings are now more pronounced, with teams seeking to consolidate their position towards the finish line. 

HBA Super Six Gameweek 13
Winning edge — Leopards took a 1 point win over Mbare Bulls in Gameweek 13

Gameweek 13 Wrap: Super Six Men’s 

In a classic case of a little much a little late, UZ Stars finally found some form in Gameweek 13, but it was not enough to take victory against fourth-placed Arcadia Bucs. 

Despite posting a decent 47 points, it was not enough for Bucs' 56 points. 

While Bucs' points tally was a true team effort (every player on the bench scored points), it was Chikanya who fought valiantly for his beloved UZ Stars, playing 39 minutes and posting 18-6-3. 

In the second game of the Men's division, JBC displayed their dominance with a 72-56 triumph over second-placed Basket Hounds. 

Basket Hounds never recovered from an 8-point deficit they suffered in the first quarter, although they gained some gusto in the final quarter. 

JBC starboys Manoah Ntini and Tashinga Chiimba continued on their fine form, posting 18 points each. 

Chiimba delivered the first double-double of the day, ending the day with an 18-10-2. 

Mukukula scored 11 points. 

Basket Hounds main-man Innocent Zhomwa delivered the highest points on the losing team's bench - 16 points. Tavonga Muvezwa also impressed with a double double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. 

The final game of the day was a blockbuster between Mbare Bulls and Leopards Academy that ended with just one point separating them at 70-71. 

Speaking to ZimSphere Sports, Leopards coach Masimba Machawira reflected on the victory; 

"The game was very difficult as Bulls used the fast break and the channels very effectively. I’m glad to say the team showed grit and willpower where it mattered the most and won the game."

HBA Super Six Gameweek 13
Leopards Coach Masimba "Coach Smalls" Machawira

Although Mbare Bulls started strong with a 7 point lead in the first quarter, Leopards brought the tenacity to recover; concluding the fourth quarter with a resounding 9 point lead. 

The Leopards coach admitted the bad start to the game, but also applauded his charges for showing their character. 

"Our defensive start to the game was bad and this immediately put us on the back foot. However our defense improved in the later stages of the third quarter were we managed to claw back from a 16-point deficit to finish the quarter behind by 8. 

"Our defense determines our offense, the harder we play defense the better we are on the offense end," said Machawira. 

While Mbare Bulls threw everything at Leopards to try and take victory, it was three players who made it possible for Leopards. 

Strongman Shoniwa Ushe played 34 minutes and posted 18 points, while Mungomezi delivered 17 points and 3 rebounds. 

Small forward Tatenda Matuture has been in impressive form lately, and he came off the bench to score 13 points and take 9 rebounds. The coach showered praise on Matuture, saying; 

"Maturure is a class player and even when he has a bad day he still gives you production. He has settled in well with his team mates and this has assisted with his productivity" 

On the Mbare Bulls bench; Warren Tegama and James Makanjera took 15 points a piece, while new signings Dyvonne Pfachi and Takudzwa Zamani posted 12 and 11 points respectively. 

In the delayed game played on Wednesday evening, log leaders JBC took a 44-49 win over Arcadia Bucs. 

While most players were clearly fatigued, vice captain Noah Penduka shined with 12 points and 5 rebounds. James Chikuse hauled in 10 points.

Bucs' go-to-guy Fred Alick again brought in the highest points on his bench, posting 13 points and 5 rebounds. 

At the end of games played this week, the standings remain the same, but the differences are now more glaring. 

Fully utilising their game in hand, JBC have now opened a five point lead at the top of the standings, with 25 points. 

Three teams are neck and neck at 20 points; Basket Hounds on second, followed by Leopards Academy and Arcadia Bucs at third and fourth respectively. 

A second loss in a row for Mbare Bulls sees them firmly seated at the bottom of the table, tied with UZ Stars at 15 points. 

Gameweek 13 Wrap: Super Six Women’s

It was a lopsided Gameweek 13 for the Women's Division, as brilliant performances contrasted dismal displays.  

In the first game of the day, new girls Blades proved they're made for the big leagues with their second win in a row. In a show of dominance, they beat bottom-placed Harare City Hornets 49-18. 

It was (yet again) captain Thelma Goredema and Point Guard Verna Malikabu who brought the points for Blades. Goredema scores 12 points while Verna Malikabu delivered 10 points and 5 rebounds. 

HBA Super Six Gameweek 13
Enjoying the big league — Blades have won two out of three matches since joining the HBA Super Six

Speaking to ZimSphere Sports, Blades coach Andrew Chitauro alluded to the duo's importance, but shared that he is tinkering with his tactics to ensure everyone on the team carries the load. 

"Yes, they were big for us again. We are now working so that all players help carry the load, so that contribution is shared. It’s a process. We will get there," said Chitauro. 

The Ladies National team coach expressed delight at their impressive start to their Super Six journey, saying; 

"Being a new team, our belief was we were going to come in and get hammered every weekend. But surprisingly, we are actually picking up some wins. These are encouraging results for us to believe and strive for more."

In the second game of the day, incessed UZ Sparks were looking on someone to take out their anger on, after missing out on Gameweek 12. 

It was Fillies who took that unfortunate role, getting demolished 72-13 by the log leaders. 

Tadiwa Mabika shined with a double-double of 1911-3 in just 22 minutes. Mufuka went home with 14 points and 5 rebounds, while Chikowore rounded off the double digit list with 11 points. 

In Saturday's final game, second-placed Vixens defeated fifth-placed Bunnies 51-30. 

Starters Margaret Magwaro and Ellen Chikoto played the entire game, bringing in 11 and 10 points respectively. 

In the delayed game of the Women's Division played on Wednesday evening, Bunnies shook off their slump by defeating Harare City Hornets 61-27. 

HBA Super Six Gameweek 13
"Saturday took an L, but Wednesday we bounced back" — Bunnies thrashed Harare City Hornets in Wednesday's delayed games. The win brings them to fourth. [Pictured is Bunnies Power Forward Tyra Kumbula]

The win takes them to fourth with 18 points, leapfrogging Fillies, who now sit at fifth with 17 points. 

Blades are third with 19 points. 

The top of the standings have been almost cemented, as second placed Vixens stand at 23 points, four more than Blades at third. UZ Sparks maintain their lead with 24 points. 

The bottom might as well be cemented too, as Harare City Hornets have just 12 points, having lost all their games this season. 

Gameweek 14 Preview

Super Six Action returns on Saturday 17 February at the home of Harare basketball, Sunrise Sports Club. Games start at 1000. 

In the first game of the day, Bunnies take on Fillies, who'll be looking to recover their fourth spot that was snatched from them during the week. 

New girls Blades take on second-placed Vixens in a promising encounter that will see either Blades cut their four point deficit, or Vixens stretch their lead. 

The last game of the day is a 'stone vs feather encounter' pitting log leaders UZ Sparks and bottom-placed Harare City Hornets. 

In the Men's division, bottom-dwellers UZ Stars and Mbare Bulls start their relegation fight with 11 games still to play for. 

Tied at 20 points, Arcadia Bucs and Basket Hounds will be looking to separate each other in the second game of the Men's division.

In the final game of the day, a promising blockbuster, leaders JBC take on third-placed Leopards Academy. The last time they met, only 10 points separated them, and Leopards will be looking to surprise the leaders and take their revenge.

"JBC remains the team to beat and we will plan accordingly," as Coach Machawira put it.

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