Dar es Salaam. Ukonga Queens put up a spirited fight to beat their archrivals Vijana Queens 67-61 in an exciting RBA League match at the National Indoor Stadium, on Sunday night.
Ukonga Queens head coach, Denis Lipiki showered praise on his team after the closely-contested game, saying they were on the right way to snatch the title.
“We are still in the race to win the league and so are the other teams, including Kurasini Divas, Oilers Princesses, Jeshi Stars and Vijana Queens,” he said.
“In five games we have so far played, we won four and lost one. So, I can say we have done a good job so far and if we continue winning like this, I think we will be champions,” he added.
His Vijana Queens counterpart Kabiola Shomari attributed the defeat to his players’ mental unreadiness.
“My players were not mentally ready for the game. It seemed as if we were under pressure of which reason I don’t know,” he said.
“We lost so many balls to our opponents,” he added.
Vijana Queens got off to a strong start, scoring five three-pointers through team captain Hadija Kalambo and Restuta Malangu, which saw them taking a 16-5 first quarter lead.
After a wobbly start, Ukonga Queens took the game to their opponents in the second quarter, commanding the proceedings with swift but accurate passes to win it 16-11.
The third quarter was even more exciting with both teams playing their hearts out and the end-to end match seemed destined for a draw.
Sensing the danger of losing the quarter, Vijana Queens resorted to long passes.
However, their efforts could not stop the well-drilled and fast-moving Ukonga Queens from taking the quarter 26-16. Basketball fans at the venue were on their toes throughout the end-to-end game.
Inspired by the hard-earned lead, Ukonga never relaxed. After a tight battle early in the fourth quarter, they won 20-18.