HBA Super Six Gameweek 16 Review: Mbare Bulls hand JBC second defeat; Bunnies hop to third


Round 4 of the HBA Super Six started off on a thunderous note on the last Saturday of February. 

In the Men’s division, Gameweek 16 made it more apparent than ever that there’s still all to play for. 

So, cancel all your bets - the league is still up for grabs. 

In a packed house at Sunrise Sports Club in Belvedere, Mbare Bulls became the unexpected kingslayers as they gave JBC only their second defeat of the season, thanks to ex-JBC man Dyvonne Pfachi. 

In the Women’s division, Sparks and Vixens continued with their unabated dominance over the league. Not too many surprises there. 

After all the hullabaloo and hurrahs, the standings in the Men’s Division remained unchanged, while the Bunnies took advantage of Blades’ defeat to usurp third place. 

HBA Super Six Gameweek 16 Review, Mbare Bulls, JBC, Bunnies, UZ Sparks, UZ Stars, Dyvonne Pfachi, Maria Mutengo, Zimbasket, Basketball Union of Zim
Packed house — Just six weeks after ZimSphere started coverage of the HBA Super Six, fans are now coming in their numbers to watch the action

Gameweek 16 Review: Men's

In the first game of the Men’s division played at 1600, third-placed Hounds took a very slim win over bottom-of-the-table UZ Stars 59-57

It seems UZ Stars are mounting a spirited comeback at the tail-end of the season, as they fought right to the end and finished the game at 59-57 to the Hounds. The teams were tied nine times, as the lead switched hands eleven times. 

The first half was Hounds’, but UZ Stars came back from the break with some gusto that culminated in twenty points in the final quarter. 

Their heroics were however not enough for a Hounds side that showed their depth, despite the absence of Innocent Zhomwa. 

Rolland Changara went home with 17 points, showing his value to Hounds yet again.

Bingura put up a commendable 11 points and 5 rebounds, while Kahari shined with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Definitely one to watch out for, youthful Elton Chigu delivered 10 points and 6 rebounds. 

On the Stars bench, Panashe Chiyangwa posted 12 points while Tamuka Chikanya did his part and contributed 11 points.

Captain Brendon Muvaka yet again showed why he’s the commander of the ship with 20 points and 7 rebounds. 

HBA Super Six Gameweek 16 Review, Mbare Bulls, JBC, Bunnies, UZ Sparks, UZ Stars, Dyvonne Pfachi, Maria Mutengo, Zimbasket, Basketball Union of Zim
Team spirit — UZ Stars keep their fighting spirit alive despite being winless this season

He’s surely been the fuel to the Stars’ resurgence ever since his return from injury in Gameweek 14. Speaking ZimSphere Sports after the game, Muvaka commented on his return to injury, saying:

“I’m just happy to be back. My teammates trust me and when I’m on the court they are unstoppable. I want to keep pushing them to play their full potential.”

Despite the loss, the captain was happy with his team’s improved performance. He picked up on his team’s errors from the game, saying;

“We turned over the ball in crucial moments, and Hounds got a lot of second chances due to us failing to block out,” said Muvaka

He continued;

“Besides that, I can say we did well. Our conversion rate was actually higher than the previous game.”

As for those already sealing the coffin on UZ Stars’s tenure in the Super Six, Muvaka had only this to say;

“It’s not over until it’s over.”

In the second game, Leopards’ slump in form continued as they fell at the hands of Bucs, losing 69-51. Perhaps the absence of Tatenda Matuture, who picked up an injury in Gameweek 14, that’s causing Leopards to lose their lustre, as they trailed for most of the game. 

On the Bucs bench, it was the man himself Fred Alick who led the points tally with 15 points, while Dumisani Moyo and Panashe Kaduya got 10 points each. Banda got the first double-double of the day with 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Leopards might have fallen, but they fell valiantly, thanks to Munashe Makumbe's efforts. The Small Forward played the entire game and managed his own double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Simbarashe Chitsungwe went home with 10 points. 

The final game of the day was the upset of log leaders JBC by fifth-placed Mbare Bulls. The two teams have a brewing rivalry, driven perhaps by Mbare Bulls’ heist of five JBC players during the January transfer window. When they met in Gameweek 12, JBC went home with the bragging rights. 

This time around though, Bulls were fuming, and they delivered a masterclass in front of a bumper crowd that ended 57-51 in their favour. Rumours of Bulls’ acquisition of two American players were flying around the courts on Saturday, and this might be a factor to their newfound confidence. 

After a tight first quarter, Bulls took a 4-point lead in the second quarter and never looked back. Their slip in the final quarter made no difference as they had already finished the game in the third quarter. 

As Fate would have it, it was Dyvonne Pfachi (who unceremoniously left JBC in January) who drove the dagger through JBC’s amour, ending their four-game unbeaten run. He endured 34 minutes of the thriller, finishing with an impressive 18-9-6. Former UZ Stars player Gilbert Maida also impressed with 10 points and 7 rebounds.

HBA Super Six Gameweek 16 Review, Mbare Bulls, JBC, Bunnies, UZ Sparks, UZ Stars, Dyvonne Pfachi, Maria Mutengo, Zimbasket, Basketball Union of Zim
Mbare Bulls celebrate after handing JBC their second defeat of the season

On the JBC bench, Noah ‘Mr Reliable‘ Penduka made sure to go home with 11 points and 5 rebounds while blazing star Tashinga Chiimba didn’t let the loss derail him from his double-double streak - posting 10 points and 12 rebounds. 

That was Gameweek 16 for you - thoroughly entertaining, yes. But barely impactful on the standings. 

JBC are still in the lead with 30 points, albeit slimmer. Bucs managed to cut the leaders’ lead with 1 point, and they now stand at 26 points. Hounds are third with 25 points, followed by Leopards who have 23 points. 

Despite being the ‘Davids’ of the day, Mbare Bulls are still perched at fifth with 20 points, just two points ahead of bottom-placed UZ stars who have 18 points. 

Gameweek 16 Review: Women's

Coming from a loss in Gameweek 15 to midtable rivals Blades, Bunnies were in no mood to play as they defeated cellar-dwellers Hornets 63-41.

Hornets were never able to recover from the 15-point deficit that was opened up by Bunnies in the first quarter, as they managed to take the lead only once.  

Jacquie Jani was the star of the show, playing 29 minutes and finishing the day with 14 points. Maria Mutengo, of course, did her part and scored 14 points plus 6 rebounds. 

HBA Super Six Gameweek 16 Review, Mbare Bulls, JBC, Bunnies, UZ Sparks, UZ Stars, Dyvonne Pfachi, Maria Mutengo, Zimbasket, Basketball Union of Zim
Sweat makes sweet — Bunnies Shooting Guard Maria Mutengo after the win against Hornets 

Conspicuous on Gameweek 16 was the absence of Fadzai Munongo on the Bunnies bench. In recent games, the star had put up impressive performances for Bunnies, but she was nowhere to be found on Saturday. When reached for comment, the Bunnies camp was coy on divulging the details of her absence. 

On the Hornets bench, it was Maphosa who went home with the most points - 10. 

In the second game of the Women’s division, Vixens continued on their pursuit of the top, dispatching fifth-placed Fillies 52-30. The odds were stacked against Fillies, as they had only 7 players on the bench. Stretched much?

HBA Super Six Gameweek 16 Review, Mbare Bulls, JBC, Bunnies, UZ Sparks, UZ Stars, Dyvonne Pfachi, Maria Mutengo, Zimbasket, Basketball Union of Zim
Hunting for the top — Vixens players taking instructions from coach Clement Kufeketa

Tracy Tseura shined with 16 points, while Cynthia Mukwesha contributed 13 points and 5 rebounds. Charity Mucucuti was the defensive star of the game, taking 10 rebounds and putting up 4 points. 

For Fillies, Tariro Zvinisai played the entire game and delivered 13 points. Bepe and Mlotshwa took 13 rebounds each.

In the final game of the day, Sparks proved too strong for Blades, as they fell for a second time to the log leaders. 

New girls Blades have been having a rollercoaster first season in the Super Six. In the times they have found themselves sliding down, it has been at the hands of log leaders Sparks. In their second meeting since Blades joined the Super Six was more of the same. They trailed the entire game, although they found some edge in the second quarter. 

The 42-28 defeat makes it their third defeat since they joined the Super Six in Gameweek 11. 

Sparks showed that their depth is the secret to their success, as they counted on Stella Chikowore 13 and Sharon Chamwarura to give them the win. The two posted 13 points and 11 points respectively on the way to the 42 points.

Even Thelma ‘Captain Fantastic’ Goredema couldn't save Blades this time, managing only 8 points and 3 rebounds. 

The action of the Women’s division resulted in the switching of third and fourth position, although both Bunnies (now third) and Blades (now third) have 23 points. Sparks and Vixens are still within two points of each other at 30 points and 28 points respectively. The bottom third comprises of Fillies with 20 points and Hornets with 17 points respectively. 

Gameweek 17 Preview 

Round 4 of the 2023-2024 Super Six League rages on this Saturday at Sunrise Sports Club. In Gameweek 17, Blades and Fillies start off the action. Blades took their first victory in the Super Six in Gameweek 12 vs Fillies, so this game will have some scores to settle (or recover at least). 

The second game of the day picks polar opposites Sparks and Hornets for their second meeting in three weeks. When they met in Gameweek 14, Hornets were walloped 81-34. This game, however, can go either ways since Hornets have picked up their first win. 

In the final game of the Women’s Division, second-placed Vixens are up against third placed Bunnies. This promises to be an entertaining matchup, as Bunnies is now aiming for second, having scooped third place from Blades.  

In the first game of the Men’s division, UZ Stars are up against in-form Arcadia Bucs in a promising encounter.  

Mbare Bulls are coming off a triumph against leaders JBC, and they’ll be looking to use that energy when they take on third-placed Basket Hounds. 

The final game of the day pits two teams in desperate need of a win - JBC and Leopards. JBC need to get back to winning ways to fend off the competition, while Leopards are looking for their first win in three games. When they met in Gameweek 14, only nine points separated them.

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