Will Suns have the magic touch in top of the table battle?

TSHWANE Suns and team coach Dr Yiannis Grapsas did not get off to the right start in their opening game against the Soweto Panthers, but since that loss, his team have enjoyed an upward trajectory. The Suns have won five games in a row and on Friday they will step on the Wembley Stadium court against Egoli Magic with an air of confidence.

Since taking over the coaching role at the Tshwane franchise Dr Grapsas has been re-engineering his team’s approach to the game. While results have been forthcoming, the Suns coach is a pragmatist and understands that playing philosophies take time for players to grasp. The match against their unbeaten Basketball National League (BNL) rivals is important, but the bigger picture is as paramount for the Greek coach.

“It’s exciting. It will be an interesting game, between two good teams and we are ready. We are not yet at 100%. I have talked to my guys. I told them that this is a second step to achieving the goal we set ourselves at the beginning of our collaboration,” said Dr Grapsas on Wednesday night, during his team’s practice at the Pilditch Indoor Basketball court.

While the Suns’ 5-1 record makes for good reading, Dr Grapsas as mentioned earlier is more concerned about a greater objective.

Tshwane Suns captain Kagiso Ngoetjana always strives to improve his game. Pictures: The BTO

“There are two ways of looking at it. Firstly, we have to look at our final goal, which is to create a strong team. We want to play good basketball, we want to put pressure on opposing defences, utilise set plays and fast breaks effectively. Secondly, we are ready to face Egoli. If we apply what we are doing in practice I think it will be easy for us. We respect Egoli, but we also want our playing quality to show,” said the Suns coach, who clarified his playing ethos.

“The most important thing in a game of basketball is spacing and timing. I am focused on that. I want us to take advantage of our skills. We have good big men and frontline. If we create set plays for them, we will have more opportunities to win the game,” said Dr Grapsas.

One of the big men the Suns will look to is team captain and forward, Kagiso Ngoetjana, who has been one of the go-to players in offense. Ngoetjana has been a figure of consistency for the Suns during the season, using his physique well inside the paint area and has a sweet jump-shot.

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According to statistics provided by Geniussports, Chief as Ngoetjana is known, leads the scoring for the Suns, averaging 16 points per-game and it is this consistency at the offensive end that the team from the capital city will rely on to get the better of Egoli.

Ngoetjana believes his team is up for the challenge posed by the unbeaten Johannesburg-based franchise.

“I am confident about our team’s chances. We are hungry for this game, it’s a great challenge and a chance for us to gauge ourselves, said the former Mpumalanga Rhinos captain.

“They have big guys like Reece (Prinsloo) and Everisto (Pasipamire) to rebound offensively, but on our side, we have good players and set plays that can crack their system. I trust our set plays and system and will rely on them to come out victorious.”

Reflecting on the season he is having so far Ngoetjana, pointed out that he is not resting on his laurels and always seeks to improve his game.

“I am always a student of the game. I don’t stay in a comfort zone, I always try to find ways to improve my game so that I can have a competitive edge,” said the Suns captain.

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