#Ashies2023: Rising Suns and Bravehearts dunk to glory 

The Lodewyk family crowned the 17th Ashraf tournament champions.

Rising Suns and Bravehearts rose above 40 teams (24 men and 16 women) in over 98 games played within eight days at Hall 29, Wits University.  

In a gripping 40-minute game divided into ten -minute quarters, the Braam Blues seemed to have the upper hand in the first quarter, but the power-hungry Rising Suns walked away with a 75-62 victory over the Blues. 

Coach Clement Kok of Rising Suns told Wits Vuvuzela, “I am happy with the growth that the boys [Rising Suns] have shown, they have been training together since January.” 

The Rising suns dominated pool A throughout the tournament, thrashing all teams including the Wits Bucks on Saturday, April 30. Despite this, both teams topped the pool and qualified for the quarter finals on Monday, May 1.  

The consistent Rising Suns won the quarter finals against Knights Basketball Club and the Semi-finals against Vest Basketball Club.  

The younger brother of the late Ashraf, Tashliem Lodewyk proudly wore a Vest Basketball Club shirt in support of his brother’s former team. He said he could not believe that the tournament was still going strong after 20 years of his brother’s passing. “When we started the tournament, we thought it would be a one -year thing but tonight we are victorious again,” said Lodewyk.  

Contrarily, the Wits Bucks were left feeling blue after their heart-wrenching defeat against Braamfontein Blues. The Witsies opened with two-point field goals, but the Blues swiftly rained on their parade. The Bucks remained hopeful going into the second half although they were down 27-33, but the Blues crushed their hopes winning by 64-37.  

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the bravest of them all?  

All the way from Malawi were women’s division winners, Bravehearts who were an absolute force to be reckoned with throughout the tournament.  

The team started the game with a two -point field goal against Celtics Finest and tried to maintain their lead through to the end, eventually winning 67-39.  

Bravehearts point guard, Riana Damaris said, “When we started the match it was a bit hard because we were tired after the previous game [semi-final] but we adjusted ourselves.” 

Former Wits Alumni and Celtic Finest player, Modiegi Mokoka said that she is glad that the tournament is expanding towards the SADC region as it helps South Africans to see different styles of play.  

The awards ceremony kicked off a bit later than anticipated due to multiple injuries throughout the games. Handing out the medals was the nephew of Ashraf, Raul Lodewyk and niece Zayaan Devilliers. 

Four women and men were given the All-Stars of the tournament medals. The four women were Lufuno Mutungutungu, Tadiwa Mabika, Modiegi Mokoka and Rachel Ngona respectively. Whilst Neo Mothiba,  Tshiamo Ngakane (Wits Bucks Coach), Emmanuel Shine and Harisson Banda emerged as All-Stars for the men.  

The most valuable player awards (MVP) were won by Riana Damaris for the ladies and Bidza Akoulou for the men’s division. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Vest Basketball Club players defending against Rising Sun’s point guard. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov